Heart disease is the #1 killer in the United States and it doesn’t discriminate. 50,000 Black women die from heart disease a year. 49% of Black women over the age of 20 have heart disease. There are several theories about why this is. Some of it is entirely in our control (lifestyle) and some of it is not (genetics and biology). A study reveals that Black women are resistant to regular exercise because of their hair. While there’s no concrete research discussing Black women’s diets, the CDC says that Black women are the most likely to be obese or overweight. The part no one can control is genetics and biology. The best perspective I ever heard is genetics loads the gun and lifestyle pulls the trigger. African Americans in general are predisposed to hypertension and heart disease. One theory I read is that we haven’t been exposed to the diet of the Western world as long as white people.
Slaves were brought to America resulting in a sudden change in nutrition. Europeans had been eating grains and processed meats much longer than the Africans who were forced to eat it upon arriving in this country. Even then they were fed scraps, so the slaves were forced to heavily salt foods for taste and preservation. However, the biology of Africans was based on the foods indigenous to their region of origin. The Dutch brought the first slaves to America in the early 1600’s. Generally speaking, that means that African Americans descended from slaves have only been eating grains such as bread for about 400 years. There’s a lot of debate about this, but Europeans and their descendants have been eating these foods for thousands of years. There is also discussion that these processed grains were never meant for human consumption. But since whites have been eating them longer, their bodies are more accustomed. Think of it as a nutritional evolution.
Lastly, research shows that Black women burn fewer calories than White women. Knowing that we have more risk factors, bullets, means that we have to focus on the trigger, or rather not pulling the trigger. Start with a heart-healthy diet to keep your heart functioning at peak performance and don’t forget to get your heart checked.
- Oatmeal ($): While maybe not the most delicious morning meal it is known to reduce cholesterol levels. It’s also rich in soluble fiber called beta glucans that may be beneficial for the heart and weight control. Oatmeal also contains magnesium and potassium which are important for regulating the heart beat. Skip the prepackaged brands that have added sugar and opt for steel cut or from scratch. Add raw honey or fruit for additional nutrients and taste. Raw honey is solid at room temperature.
- Bananas ($): This low-calorie fruit packs a nutritional punch. It contains a healthy dose of potassium which is a major contributor to heart health.
- Nuts and seeds ($): A 1/4 cup of nuts or seeds is full of unsaturated fat and is a better option than chips. They will keep you full longer and is a great energy boost that won’t spike your glucose level resulting in a crash later.
- Tomatoes ($$): When you cut a tomato from top to bottom the inside looks the chambers of the heart. Nature provided us with a guide book to eating healthy. Some foods that look like parts of our bodies are really good for that part of the body. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Free radicals have been associated with the development of heart disease.
- Dark greens ($): Leafy dark green vegetables are a major source of vitamins such as folate. B9, another name for folate, is thought to reduce the level of homocysteine which is associated with the development of heart disease.
- Salmon ($$): Grill some salmon to get a boost of omega 3 fatty acid which is super good for the heart and the brain. Are you a vegetarian or vegan? Get your omega 3 from walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, spinach, quinoa, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, among others.
- Dark chocolate ($): Enough said, it’s chocolate. The delicious treat contains flavonol which may reduce the risk of heart disease. And plus, it’s chocolate.
Enjoy these foods as part of a heart-healthy diet. It doesn’t matter if you have already been diagnosed with heart disease, these foods might help you turn things around. A nutritious diet in partnership with exercise can help reduce the trend of heart disease and may even contribute to getting off medications related to heart disease. Consult a physician before engaging in a new nutrition or exercise plan. Never stop a medication without first consulting your physician. Share this post with someone you love and comment below.
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