The two highest leading causes of premature deaths in females are heart attacks and heart disease. “Worldwide, 8.6 million women die from heart disease each year, accounting for a third of all deaths in women” (womensheart). More women die from strokes than men. In the United States alone, 8 million women have heart disease. The sad thing about these statistics, are the ages of the women who die from these conditions. Many of them are under the age of fifty. Heart disease in women is more fatal than breast cancer.
Why is heart disease more fatal in females than in males? It is because the symptoms are different. Many women who have a heart attack do not experience chest pain. They may feel weak and blame it on an approaching flu. Even “physicians are slower to recognize the presence of heart attacks in women because “characteristic” patterns of chest pain and EKG changes are less frequently present” (Womensheart).
Everybody is at risk of getting a heart attack. However, you are at a higher risk if you smoke, drink excessively, have diabetes or are overweight or obese. The basic advice is if you smoke, quit smoking. That also goes for if you are a heavy drinker. If you are overweight or obese, changing your eating habits and getting some exercise in will help lower that risk. However, there is one little thing you can include in your daily diet which will lower that risk even more. The answer is berries.
Berries are rich in antioxidants. We need these to protect our bodies against free radicals or damaged cells. These damaged cells will attack the good ones and damage them as well. Berries play a key role of destroying the bad cells before they cause any further damage. These antioxidants help prevent heart disease because they play a key role in raising the levels of High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) or the good cholesterol.
Berries boost the immune system because they contain flavonoids and Vitamin C. If you have a cold or the flu, eating berries can help fight the symptoms. You can even prevent yourself from getting sick in the first place by including berries in your daily diet. It is also said that foods that are rich in flavonoids reduce the risk of people, including women, of dying of a heart attack, heart disease and stroke by twenty percent. Vitamin C, while it helps protect you from getting sick, also helps dilute the blood vessels and improves blood circulation.
Berries are rich in polyphenols. “Epidemiologic studies suggest that higher polyphenol intake from fruits and vegetables are associated with decreased risk for cardiovascular disease” (nutrition.org). These play a role similar to antioxidants but work in a more complex way to reduce the risks of you getting cardiovascular disease and many other types of chronic diseases.
Blackberries are not only high in fiber and Vitamin C, they also contain soluble fiber. This fiber plays a key role in allowing the body to absorb fat and cholesterol and helps remove it from the body.
With all the weight loss hype, who has not heard of the acai berry? This berry does contain many health benefits. While it contains flavonoinds, it also has flavonoids known as anthocyanins. “Epidemiological studies suggest that increased consumption of anthocyanins lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), the most common cause of mortality among men and women” (advances.nutrition.org).
Blueberries and strawberries are other berries that are loaded with anthocyanins. However, strawberries also contain folate. This plays a key role in making the cells in the body function properly. When you do not have enough folate in your daily diet, the levels on homocysteine in your blood can increase. Higher levels of homocysteine are one of the main causes of damage to the blood vessels and blood clots. Including both blueberries and strawberries in your daily diet, you may decrease the chance of getting a heart attack by at least thirty present.
Along with Vitamin C, raspberries contain manganese. While this plays a key role in helping diabetics lower and maintain their blood sugar levels, this mineral also plays a role in reducing water retention and protects the liver from lipidosis or adipose dystrophy. It also activates the enzymes that are responsible for increasing metabolism and decreasing Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL), otherwise known as the bad cholesterol.
While most people associate cranberries with clearing up urinary tract infections, they also are know to increase the good cholesterol and lower the bad at the same time. All you need to do is add three glasses of cranberry juice in your daily diet. If you do not like the taste of pure cranberry juice, there are many combinations (such as, cran-raspberry) that you may find delicious.
Heart disease is something that you should not ignore especially if you are a female. However, by including the above fruits in you daily diet, you are reducing the risk of having a heart attack, heart disease or stoke by at least thirty percent. If you are a woman-or even a man-you will benefit heartfully by including berries and berry juices in your daily diet.