Heart attacks kill women! Lower your risk!

It’s February and it’s Women’s Heart Health Month!

Why do women need a special month just for heart health? It’s to bring attention to the number one killer of women – young and old. Heart disease kills six times more women than all the cancers put together. Women need to know that taking care of their heart helps to keep them living and loving a long time.

Go Red for Women!

Go Red for Women!I

I will try to avoid making it preachy or boring. I believe that making some little changes in our lifestyle are good for our hearts and can actually enhance the pleasure we get from our lives as well as our food.

Here are my tips to help lighten up your heart, body and soul!

1. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors with extra focus on the dark ones such as blueberries and blackberries. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants which help protect your heart against cell damage. Antioxidants also help to protect you against cancer. Studies are showing that blueberries have several, powerful heart health benefits, as well as vascular health properties. Fruits and vegetables, fresh, frozen, canned, cooked or raw – however you enjoy them best – eat lots of them!

2. Eat whole grains such as brown rice, oatmeal, barley, and quinoa. They dress up nicely* and make very satisfying side dishes for your meals. Eat grains right from the stalk, not always ground into flour and baked into loaves of whole or multigrain bread. That’s not to say you must never eat bread; I’m saying include whole grains without processing them into another form. Grains are good for your heart because they’re a rich source of healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, plant enzymes, hormones, and hundreds of other phytochemicals. Grains help lower blood cholesterol levels and help maintain a more stable blood sugar level which may prevent inflammation. Inflammation’s effect on your heart health isn’t fully understood but it’s showing to be an important factor and research is in progress to learn more about its role in heart disease.

* Try this delicious recipe!
Slow Cooker Red Beans and Barley
Slow Cooker Red Beans and Barley
Weight Watchers Recipe
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 420 min
Other time: 0 min
Serves: 6
To give this recipe a nice smoky flavor, swap fire-roasted crushed tomatoes for the plain ones.


  1 cup(s) uncooked pearl barley, rinsed (use long-cooking variety; not pearled barley)
  1 small uncooked red onion(s), finely chopped
  1 rib(s) (large) uncooked celery, chopped
1 clove(s) (medium) garlic clove(s), minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, crushed, or more to taste
  15 oz canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
2 leaf/leaves bay leaf
3 cup(s) fat free chicken broth, or vegetable broth
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp table salt


  • Place all ingredients in order listed in a 5-quart slow cooker; do not stir.
  • Cover and cook on low setting of slow cooker for 7 hours; stir and serve. Yields about 1 1/3 cups per serving.


  • If time allows, make it a day before you want to eat it since the dish tastes even better the second day.

Notice I didn’t say you had to stop eating anything you enjoy? That’s because you don’t have to give up your favorite foods! I’m suggesting you eat more foods that offer protection for your heart and fit in your favorite treats around them!

3. Move! Play! Dance! Scrub your house and car! Walk, Walk, Walk!?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Moving makes your heart stronger and it can be all kinds of movement. To improve overall cardiovascular health, the American Heart Association suggests at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity). Thirty minutes a day, five times a week is an easy goal to remember. You will experience benefits even if you divide your time into two or three segments of 10 to 15 minutes per day. Choose things that are fun to do, instead of “good for you.” Movement shouldn’t be an, “I got to do this and I hate it,” it should be, “I get to do this and it’s so much fun!”

Don’t worry if you fall short of the activity goals above, try to do a little more than you have been doing. I’m not asking you to be perfect, I’m just saying, “bump it up a little is better than not at all!”


Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.