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Women, Menopause And Cardiovascular Health

Dr. Shweta U. Shah

Dr. Shweta U. Shah
18 August 2020

This article is authored by Dr. Shweta U. Shah. A practicing homeopath, she follows a patient-centred perspective, emphasizing the benefits of natural remedies and herbs, homeopathy and whole food nutrition.

Statistics show that most women have a 'heart age' that is way more than their biological age! Your heart changes at menopause. A decrease in the level of estrogen greatly increases your risk of developing heart diseases. In fact, cardiovascular diseases are the biggest cause for mortality among women. Additionally, the possibility for developing cardiac disorders increases radically around the menopausal period.

Association between menopause and heart health

Eat BreakfastAs the levels of estrogen decline, your heart and blood vessels become less elastic. Consequently, blood pressure starts rising, putting strain on the heart. A reduction in estrogen levels also afflicts the cholesterol profile. Levels of HDL dwindle, while LDL and triglyceride levels escalate, increasing your risk of cardiac arrest. Furthermore, during the peri-menopausal and menopausal phase, women tend to become resistant to insulin as well. Consequently, they may develop diabetes which again puts women at a bigger risk for heart diseases. Menopause also puts a break on the metabolic rate, and this may lead to weight gain, especially around the belly. This exerts further stress on your heart and raises your risk of heart diseases.

Fortunately, it is possible to turn back the clock on your heart! Almost 50 % of all deaths due to heart attack can be prevented by making specific changes in the diet. So, take your heart health into your own hands!

Foods That Make Up A Heart Healthy Diet!

Here are some heart healthy foods that can help you reduce your chances of getting heart diseases and help you drop that unwanted weight too!

1. Flax seeds: Radish 1 tablespoon of the flax seeds serves up 3 grams of fibre and is an amazing plant source of omega 3 fatty acids. The fibre has robust belly-fat burning abilities and lessens cholesterol levels substantially. Omega 3 decreases inflammation and can help stave off cardiac diseases as well as diabetes mellitus. Flax seeds lower two cholesterol carrying molecules, apolipoprotein A1 and B and this plays a pivotal role in managing your cholesterol profile. However, do remember that you need to consume ground flaxseeds in order to obtain the incredible heart benefits; whole flax seeds cannot be digested easily. Flaxseeds are the ideal addition to homemade smoothies, parathas and salad dressings!

2. Tomatoes: The tomato is a low-calorie food that’s packed with the choicest nutrition. There is a very strong relationship between a habitual intake of tomatoes and a diminished risk of developing heart-related disorders. Loaded with lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant, the tomato helps widen the blood vessels in people diagnosed with atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of your arteries). An important fact to bear in mind is – cooking releases more lycopene than the raw fruit. So, eat a lot of tomato soup and add generous amounts of the fruit in all your curries!

3. Moong: The green gram most definitely ought to be a part of your heart healthy diet. Studies show that moong reduces LDL as well as non-HDL cholesterol. Furthermore, it is chockfull of fibre, it keeps you feeling fuller for longer, prevents weight gain and stabilizes your blood sugar levels too. What’s more, moong does not have to be boring. Experiment with moong by adding it to your bhel, salads, curries and sandwiches!

4. Groundnuts: Eat BreakfastA protector of the cardio-vascular system, the groundnut is jam-packed with resveratrol; in fact, groundnuts have five times as much resveratrol as found in grapes. Resveratrol is a potent antioxidant that plays the role of a powerful heart healthy phyto-nutrient. Also, being a legume, it is a good source of fibre, protein and mono-saturated fat, which help bring down blood cholesterol level, steadies your blood glucose profile and helps battle inflammation in the body. It brings down LDL levels drastically, whilst maintaining good levels of HDL. Experts state that boiled groundnuts are way better than roasted raw ones. The amount of resveratrol found in the brown-red papery skin of the legume is humongous. What’s more, boiled groundnuts also have lesser calories and lesser fat compared to the dry and roasted peanuts. Have boiled peanuts as a mid-morning snack, add them to your khichdi, or top your bhel with these boiled nuts!

5. Garlic: Garlic provides very strong protection against heart diseases. It decreases the total serum cholesterol levels, whilst increasing levels of the good HDL. It also helps lower blood pressure in hypertensive individuals. Chopping the herb, converts alliin in to allicin, the compound which proffers all the robust health benefits. So, add liberal amounts of this herb to your dishes! Experts also recommend hypertensive individuals to begin their day with 1 flake of crushed garlic blended with a dollop of honey.

Food that can have an adverse effect on your heart health is excess sodium and sugar. These ingredients sneak their way into our diet through processed foods. Foods that are loaded with excess sodium and sugar cause obesity, inflammation, and diabetes, and all these contribute to cardiovascular disorders. Remember to consume them in moderation.

Having a good, wholesome lifestyle is very important; control your diet and ensure that you exercise daily to help your heart function at its best. Menopause is a crucial time to take good care of yourself and your heart. Women, who follow a heart healthy diet, exercise regularly and watch their weight, can significantly cut back on their risk of developing heart diseases as they age.



DISCLAIMER

The views and opinions expressed, and assumptions & analysis presented in this content piece are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

 

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Hypertension In Women

Karishma Chawla

Karishma Chawla
27 October 2020

This article is authored by Karishma Chawla. She is a practising nutritionist and a weight loss expert. She advises people on what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or to achieve a specific health-related goal.

Hypertension is quite often considered a men’s health problem, but that’s a myth. In fact, men and women have a similar risk of developing high blood pressure. But after the onset of menopause, women actually face higher risk than men of developing high blood pressure. Although prior to 45 years of age, men are slightly more likely to develop high blood pressure.

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing inside the lining of arteries. High blood pressure or hypertension occurs when the force increases and stays higher than normal for a period of time.

Hypertension is often referred to as a silent killer. If untreated, it can lead to a major health set back and cause many complications. In most cases, there may not be any symptoms of high blood pressure. Sometimes, in case of sudden or severe increase in B.P., individuals may experience headaches, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision or nosebleeds. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke and kidney failure. These problems worsen when high blood pressure is present along with diabetes. For women, high blood pressure during pregnancy can be dangerous for both mother and child.

What causes it? Reasons for high blood pressure

Eat Breakfast

• Genetic factors: Hereditary factors – one of the leading reasons for high blood pressure, which worsen when the environmental factors are not healthy.

• Body weight: Obesity and diabetes along with their associated disorders are often associated with hypertension.

• Age:Chances of a high blood pressure diagnosis increase steeply with age. But research now shows that high blood pressure can affect adolescents and the young as well.

• Gender: Risk is greater in men than women, but after menopause, the difference decreases.

• Dietary factors: Some dietary factors that can contribute to high blood pressure include excess calories coming saturated fats, diets that contain high sodium foods, and less calcium and magnesium in the diet

• Potassium: Decrease in potassium intake and low intake of high potassium foods like fruits and vegetables can also lead to increase in heart rate and high blood pressure.

• Contraceptives: Certain oral contraceptive pills may lead to high blood pressure

• Lifestyle: Sedentary lifestyle devoid of exercise can contribute to high blood pressure. Stress, smoking, tobacco intake, and alcohol intake also lead to increase in high blood pressure.

• Other medical conditions High blood pressure can also be a result of other medical conditions such as kidney problems, diabetes, and sleep apnea. Hormone issues such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome and Hyperaldosteronism (increase in aldosterone) and preeclampsia in pregnancy are responsible for high blood pressure diagnosis.

Measures to reduce high blood pressure

Reduce sodium intake
It is important to note that it’s not the consumption of salt but excessive consumption of sodium is a concern. Sodium is a compound found naturally in foods. One teaspoon of salt contains 2400 milligrams of sodium and the amount recommended for daily consumption is approximately the same. The amount of recommended sodium intake reduces further to approximately 1500 mg under conditions such as hypertension, kidney issues, water retention, and heart condition to name a few. But these problems are usually correlated with high consumption of sugar and fat. Hence it is beneficial to avoid foods such as processed foods, salted snacks, pickles, papad, sauces and instant soups. These are some known sources of excess sodium and not the usual home cooked foods.

It’s important to avoid sprinkling excess salt at the table. Rather use adequate salt during cooking and experiment with reduced sodium salt after conferring with your physician. Tata Salt Liteis a good option for those looking to reduce sodium intake. It provides 15% reduced sodium than regular salt. Inclusion of herbs and spices like like coriander, ginger, turmeric, mint, garlic or lemon juice can also help improves the taste and flavour of the food.

Improve intake of calcium, magnesium and potassium How to Increase Immune System
This can be done by inclusion of low-fat dairy products for calcium and green leafy vegetables for magnesium. Fruits and vegetables rich in potassium are bananas, watermelon, tomatoes, oranges, sweetlime, leafy vegetables, milk and almonds. Eating three to five servings of these foods daily would ensure sufficient potassium intake and regulate blood pressure.

Reduction in refined carbohydrates
Though this is not a direct connection, but the preparations and the nature of these foods usually contain excess sodium for taste and preservation purposes. Add omega 3 foods such as fatty fish, walnuts and flaxseeds to reduce blood pressure.

DASH DietDash Diet has been found to be a good approach for the treatment of hypertension. This diet emphasizes consumption of fruits, vegetables, low sodium, and low-fat dairy foods. It also includes low amounts of saturated fat, total fat and cholesterol to reduce blood pressure. This includes whole grains, poultry, fish, nuts and other foods rich in potassium, calcium, omega 3 and magnesium.

Lifestyle MeasuresLifestyle measures include regular exercise of 30 minutes daily, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation and yoga, avoidance of rage and anger, adequate sleep, low alcohol intake, no smoking and normal body weight with low body fat percentage.

High blood pressure can affect the physical, professional, personal and economical life of any individual. As women tend to juggle multiple priorities, managing their own health often takes a back seat. It is advisable to take some judicious measures such as dietary and lifestyle modifications in order to prevent the onset of hypertension, control it and minimize its risks.



DISCLAIMER

The views and opinions expressed, and assumptions & analysis presented in this content piece are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

 



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