Women go red against heart disease

Health-wise women have a lot in common with our male counterparts. Heart disease is the main killer of men in this country, according to the American Heart Association. And that statistic is unfortunately also true for women. In fact, more women die of heart disease each year than from every kind of cancer combined, says the AHA.

Which is why we might have seen a lot of women dressed in red Friday, Feb. 7. It was National Wear Red Day — a day to raise awareness for what we women can do to protect ourselves from heart disease.

Why red? It is the color of our hearts, says the American Heart Association. And I might mention it’s also the color of red grapes, red wine, red berries, and even red beans that contain resveratrol — an antioxidant substance that may exert heart-protective effects. One caution, however. A recent study in older active men (not women) was surprised to find that high dose supplements of resveratrol (in excess of the amount found in foods) had no benefit — and perhaps even some harm — to health. Best to get this substance the old-fashioned way — from real red food — say experts.

Dark chocolate may not be red but it still tends to be good for our hearts. So are nuts. Which is exactly how I justified sharing a dark chocolate brownie with espresso gelato and hazelnuts with my friend last evening.

Exercise to burn off the espresso gelato dark chocolate brownie might bring a bit of red flush to the face. And that’s good for this female heart, yes? Absolutely, say experts. Physical activity — for women and men — “is highly effective at improving heart health.”

Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. Email her at bquinn@chomp.org.


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