Did you know that cardiovascular disease (heart disease) claims more women’s lives each year than the next FIVE leading causes of death among women? We’re talking half a million women a year die of heart disease! Breast cancer, after lung cancer is third, believe it or not.
While these statistics may sound scary, there is some encouraging news—heart disease is mostly preventable. You read that right—PREVENTABLE! Your healthy lifestyle (or lack of it) will make all the difference in the world. We need to learn to love and respect our hearts to keep them strong and healthy! So how do we do that?
The answer to this is two-fold. And it goes back to that same old song and dance: diet and exercise.
We have to understand that inactivity is one of the major risk factors in developing heart disease. The antidote to the inactivity problem is establishing a new habit of moving—something as simple as walking out the door each morning for 15 minutes and turning around and coming home equals 30 minutes of aerobic activity—the American Heart Association’s recommendation for exercise. It doesn’t have to be expensive and difficult to be effective—keep that in mind.
That 30 minutes of fast walking is going to affect every muscle in your body, especially the most important muscle of all—your heart. That little bit of movement each day is like investing a portion of your paycheck every month into a savings account so you can have something in your retirement years. By the time you need your little nest egg, it will be built up and providing you the comfort you need in your older years. That what exercise will do for your heart, too.
But what does that look like? We all know that toned muscles are stronger than untoned muscles. We’ve all seen pictures of body builders and know what toned muscles look like (not that I’m saying your muscles need to be THAT toned!). Movement helps your muscles to grow, your body fat to diminish and your heart to get stronger. Cardiovascular exercise—that would be walking, jogging, running, swimming, dancing, mowing the lawn… is what builds healthy heart muscle. (The way to exercise your heart is to make it beat a little faster). My most favorite cardiovascular exercise is turning on some disco on the stereo and dancing my buns off till I’m all hot and sweaty. I do this when no one is home and have fun, all by myself! (shhh, don’t tell!)
Likewise, food has a big impact on the health of your heart. I found that out by the sheer volume of requests from women wanting more options with heart healthy food choices in our Menu-Mailers. We responded and introduced Heart Healthy Menu-Mailer a few years ago. The response has been astounding and I’m sharing a recipe with you today so you can see how delicious and easy eating healthy for your heart can be.
Until I did the research, I didn’t know how huge cardiovascular issues are for women. I thought it was mostly older men, type A personalities who had the heart problems. They do, but so do we! Taking care of our hearts through cardiovascular exercise and healthy food has reached a critical point in our culture.
Here is a recipe from our Heart Healthy Menu-Mailer. If you have concerns about your cardiovascular health or someone in your family, this might be just the ticket. We use the AHA (American Heart Association) guidelines to make up these recipes:
Chicken with Orange Pico de Gallo
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 11-oz. can mandarin oranges in water, drained
1 large tomato, chopped
1 small avocado, chopped
1 lime, juiced
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed of any visible fat
In a skillet, add half the olive oil and heat over a medium high heat. Now cook onions and garlic until onions are translucent. Next, add the vinegar, brown sugar and crushed red pepper flakes and continue to stir until sugar has completely dissolved. Add oranges, tomato and avocado and lime juice. Stir for a moment or two to incorporate all ingredients. Ta da! You now have Orange Pico de Gallo.
Remove from heat and transfer to a serving bowl. To the same skillet, add remaining olive oil and when heated, add the chicken and cook over medium heat until cooked all the way through. Serve chicken topped with Orange Pico de Gallo.
NUTRITION per serving: 260 Calories; 9g Fat; 29g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 68mg Cholesterol; 92mg Sodium. Exchanges: 4 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 1/2 Fruit; 1 1/2 Fat; 0 Other
SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Whole-wheat couscous and steamed broccoli spears.