Now, on to heart health month! You have probably heard by now that heart disease is the number one killer of both men AND women. For women with PCOS, heart health is of particular concern since this syndrome increases the risk of developing hypertension, high cholesterol, and other cardiovascular diseases. My intention today is to give you a brief summary of what you can do with nutrition and fitness to lower your risk of heart disease.
Top of the list: increase your fruits and vegetables! Whole fruits and vegetables provide a lot of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that act as antioxidants. The fiber can help lower cholesterol, minerals like potassium can potentially help lower blood pressure, and certain vitamins and other nutrients that act as antioxidants can help lower inflammation.
I just listened to an interesting webinar on concord grape juice and it's benefits for heart health. What I found of interest was that one of the studies mentioned showed that after drinking 16 ounces of concord grape juice daily for 8 weeks, there was a slight decrease in night time blood pressure (1.4 percentage points), and fasting glucose either remained the same or decreased up to 2 mg/dl in all of the study participants. (The study was done on 64 adults who were pre-hypertensive or who had stage 1 hypertension and were not taking any medication.) This is potentially good news for people who really enjoy grape juice, but have been afraid to drink it for fear that it would raise their blood glucose levels.
It's important to remember that grape juice is a lot more concentrated than whole grapes (and therefore has a lot more calories), but it is likely that it can be safely consumed in moderation and can help contribute to your daily fruit quota, while potentially helping lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Next tip: avoid trans fat. This is the absolute worst kind of fat because it can lower your good cholesterol (HDL) while at the same time increasing your "bad" cholesterol (LDL).
Finally, get moving! The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), recommends everyone get a total of at least 30 minutes of physical activity at least 5 times per week for heart health.
For more nutrition tips specifically for PCOS, please check out my new ebook series. Through the end of the month, the first book is free!