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Women, weight and heart disease

Last Modified: March 23, 2017

Heart Health


Heart Disease remains the leading cause of death among women in the United States. We can’t emphasize the need for the female population to educate themselves on prevention enough, and one particular topic in this category – along with diet, exercise and smoking – is weight.  Sara Bennett, RDN, CD, CDM, CFPP, registered dietitian nutritionist, Parkview Physicians Group – Cardiology, helps us understand a healthy goal and some simple tools for getting there.  

One in three women die annually due to heart disease. The good news is that lifestyle changes can prevent most cases of heart disease. One of these positive changes that can have a huge impact is the obtaining and maintaining of a healthy weight. But what’s considered a healthy goal? Your ideal, weight is determined by your body mass index (BMI), a measurement of one’s height vs. their weight that can predict future risks for chronic diseases associated with weight.

Body Mass Index Ranges


Weight status










Weight loss of 5-10 percent can make a huge impact on an individual’s overall risk for cardiovascular disease.

6 Tips for Kick Starting Weight Loss

  • Increase fiber intake. Opt for 100% whole wheat grains (bread, crackers, pasta, brown rice) rather than more processed versions. I recommend at least 25gm of fiber daily. 
  • Increase fruit and vegetable intake. Aim for 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit daily (1 serving equals about ½ cup).
  • Increase omega 3 fatty acids. Incorporate fatty fish into your diet at least twice a week (salmon, maceral, tuna). If you don’t care for fish, try 2-3 tablespoons of walnuts or 2 tablespoons ground flax seed daily.
  • Choose lean meats. Go for 90/10 ground beef, 93/7 ground turkey or pork loin, as well as low-fat dairy products.
  • Increase physical activity. Get moving for at least 150 minutes per week.
  • Prep and prepare all meals/snacks for the week. On a day that’s convenient for you, cut up a variety of vegetables and fruits, portion them out to ½-cup servings. Cook ground turkey or shredded chicken to use on salads throughout the week. Portion out snack items like pretzels, nuts and crackers to the correct serving size in a small baggie to avoid overeating. 

Weight loss can be a difficult journey, but making small lifestyle changes is an important step toward reducing your risk for cardiovascular disease. Try incorporating these simple changes to avoid falling under the scary statistics. 


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