Lose the belly fat, lower your risk

August 20, 2019 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Hearts

That extra weight you’re carrying around your waist could put you at an increased risk for heart attack.

Recent studies indicate women who carry more weight around their belly are at greater risk for heart attack than women who carry their weight elsewhere.

The American Heart Association reported that one study, which followed more than 2,500 postmenopausal women with a body mass index (BMI) that puts them in the normal-weight category, showed women who carried fat around their belly were three times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than women who carried fat mostly in their legs.

The study suggested that a healthy BMI alone is not enough to determine overall health and made a strong case for getting rid of that belly fat.

Fat stored around your belly is of particular concern because it often includes an increase in visceral fat, which is the type of fat that encases your organs. This type of fat has been linked to increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, breathing problems, high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol.

How can you tell if you are carrying too much belly fat? Mayo Clinic recommends simply measuring your waistline with a measuring tape. For women, a measurement greater than 35 inches indicates an unhealthy amount of belly fat.

The good news is you can get rid of some of that belly fat by making some simple changes:

  • Eat a healthy diet. Load up on vegetables, fruits and whole grain and opt for lean protein such as lean meats or fish. Be sure to include healthy snacks throughout your day to help curb cravings.
  • Cut down, or eliminate, sugary drinks. Replace that sugary soda with water or a flavored water and cut back on the sugar in your coffee.
  • Keep portion sizes in check. At home, use measuring cups and a food scale to make sure that serving size is a single serving. In restaurants, share a meal or ask for a take-out container before you begin eating — and place a portion of your meal in it immediately (leftovers for the next day and you remove the temptation to finish off that large meal in one sitting).
  • Exercise. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, or 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week.
  • Skip the ab crunches. Yes, you read that correctly. Ab crunches will not burn off that fat; but a good workout that helps burn stored fat will. Crunches can still be great, just don’t focus solely on them.
  • Keep track of what you eat. If it goes in your mouth, write it down. This will help you see what you are eating and when, so you can make changes. Carry a small notebook with you to log your eating habits or use one of the many health-related apps available for most smart phones.

Know your risk for heart disease. Take a free, 5-minute test that could save your life.

Your heart is in good hands when you choose us for cardiovascular care. Learn more about our high-quality heart care.

 Learn more from Healthy Driven Chicago:

Eight small changes anyone can make 

Seven tips to improve your fitness

Five ways to get a healthier meal on the table faster


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