October is Menopause Awareness Month, with a focus this year on cardiovascular health. Let’s shift our attention to the positive aspects of maintaining a healthy heart.
During menopause, dips in oestrogen levels can lead to heart palpitations. When oestrogen is abundant, it aids in the dilation of blood vessels. However, when it decreases, it causes constriction, contributing to palpitations. This is why menopausal women face an elevated risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
The statistics on heart attacks in women are staggering. We’re 50% more likely to experience misdiagnosis compared to men due to our different symptoms. These can manifest as:
Promoting cardiovascular health, especially during the transitional phases of menopause, is within our grasp through mindful nutrition. Here are some key foods that can make a difference:
Combatting inflammation is pivotal in preventing cardiovascular disease. Omega-3 fatty acids, renowned for their anti-inflammatory properties, play a crucial role in maintaining healthy blood vessels. These can be found in oily fish like salmon, sardines, trout, and mackerel, as well as vegan sources like linseed oil and walnuts. Studies have even shown that regular consumption of walnuts is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. Turmeric and ginger, both potent anti-inflammatories, offer significant benefits to cardiovascular health. Ginger, in particular, is recognized for its ability to reduce arterial plaque, thwart platelet aggregation, and the formation of blood clots.
Phytoestrogens come to our aid when oestrogen levels fluctuate, stabilizing blood pressure and mitigating panic-inducing spikes. An observational study in Asia in 2019 revealed a substantial inverse relationship between dietary intake of soy isoflavones and coronary heart disease. While not oestrogen, they exert a gentle oestrogen-like influence on the body, supporting vasodilation and positively impacting cholesterol levels. Foods rich in phytoestrogens include organic soy (tofu, tempeh, miso, organic soya yogurt), ground linseeds, alfalfa, brassicas, peppers, and pulses.
Magnesium is another ally against heart palpitations, often referred to as nature’s tranquilizer. It lends crucial support to smooth muscles, including those governing our entire cardiovascular system. Prime sources include black beans, avocado, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds, green leafy vegetables, almonds, spinach, and Swiss chard. Additionally, incorporating Epsom bath salts can provide an extra dose of this essential mineral.
Berries, cherries, and beetroot are great sources of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, which shield against inflammation, a primary contributor to heart disease.
Garlic’s impact on reducing cardiovascular risk factors has been well-documented through numerous trials.
Lycopene, abundant in tomatoes, is pivotal in averting heart attacks and strokes. Maintaining adequate levels of lycopene in the blood has been correlated with a reduced risk of these critical events.
The research underscores the prowess of Vitamin D3 in enhancing the heart muscle’s pumping capacity, with improvements reaching up to 35%!
For an ample supply of folate and Vitamin K, turn to vibrant green leafy vegetables. A study involving 29,689 women highlighted a noteworthy correlation between high leafy green vegetable intake and a significantly lower risk of coronary heart disease, possibly due to the host of beneficial minerals and vitamins they offer, including vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium. Higher vitamin C status is also associated with diminished risks of hypertension, coronary heart disease, and stroke.
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