By Jennifer M. Zweigle, RDN, LDN
While heart disease is commonly perceived as a “man’s disease,” it is the number one killer of women in the U.S, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year. This equates to about the same number of deaths from heart disease for both men and women.
Many lifestyle factors affect a person’s risk for heart disease, including physical activity, diet, smoking and alcohol use. We all know we should get more physical activity, not smoke and drink alcohol only in moderation, but there are many different ideas about the best diet for heart health.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines encourage a healthy eating pattern that includes a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, lowfat dairy and healthy fats while limiting saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars and sodium.
The Mediterranean diet, which is very similar to the U.S. guidelines, has been proven to be very effective in improving heart health as well as reducing mortality rates among people with heart disease. The Mediterranean diet is not just a diet in itself, but a healthy lifestyle, which includes whole foods, daily activity and social meal times.