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Help Fight Heart Disease by Going Red


Wearing red is one way to raise awareness about heart disease in women

The big red hearts in store windows are a sure sign that Valentine's Day is not far off. They are also a reminder that February is American Heart Month, a time to focus on the prevention of heart disease, the number one cause of death for men and women in the United States. 

Why Wear Red?

If you happen to see a lot more red sweaters and neckties on people today, that is because it's National Wear Red Day®. The wearing of red on the first Friday in February is meant to raise awareness about the risk of heart disease in women - a risk that is often overlooked. 

And to make sure the importance of this message reaches all women, The Heart Truth® introduced the iconic Red Dress as the national symbol to motivate women to take action to reduce their risk of heart disease.  Since 2003 the Red Dress Collection Fashion Show has been an annual event in New York City bringing together top fashion designers, models, and celebrities to inspire all women to protect their hearts. 

So now that everyone is wearing red and seeing red, what else can you do?  Eat red! 

Why Eat Red?

Colorful fruits and vegetables are one of the most heart-healthy foods you can eat. Now there is evidence of a direct link between these antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables and a lower risk of stroke among women. 

A Swedish study, published in the December 1, 2011 edition of the journal Stroke, evaluated the diets of nearly 38,000 women between the ages of 49-83 for over 10 years. More than 31,000 women in the group had no signs of heart disease and almost 5,700 of them had a history of heart disease. 

The researchers found the women in both groups who had the highest levels of diet-based antioxidants had a significantly lower risk of stroke than those with the lowest dietary antioxidant capacity.  The antioxidant vitamins in fruits and vegetables, such as Vitamin C, E, and A, and the phytonutrients such as carotenoids and flavonoids, are believed to help the body to fight free radicals which can contribute to heart disease and stroke. 

You can't change your age or family history to reduce your risk of heart disease, but you can change your diet. Why not begin with the addition of one more fruit or vegetable at every meal? A roasted red pepper or side order of red cabbage would be a perfect way to start!