Top Chef Meals: Women, Diabetes & Heart Disease

Women, Diabetes & Heart Disease

In honor of Women’s History Month, we take a look at the correlation between diabetes and heart disease when it comes to women’s health.

THE STORY: Diabetes is a disease that occurs when blood sugar levels are unable to be controlled and get too high (with Type 2 diabetes being the most common). Type 2 diabetes is considered a major risk factor for coronary artery disease and stroke. But how do these specifically affect women? Here we take a look at the risks of diabetes and heart disease in women and talk about how you can lower your risk for both.

WOMEN & DIABETES: Approximately 1 in 9 women in the U.S. has diabetes. Adults with diabetes are 2x as likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke as well - particularly women with diabetes who may experience an excess risk of heart disease. Women are also at higher risk of other diabetes-related complications such as blindness, kidney disease, and depression. Plus, diabetes is different amongst women - African American, Hispanic/Latina, American Indian/Alaska Native and Asian/Pacific Islander women are more likely to develop diabetes than white women.

Women also run the risk of gestational diabetes (even if they have no history of diabetes prior) which affects 2% to 10% of pregnancies in the United States every year. While this type of diabetes typically goes away after the birth of your child, about 50% of women with gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes.

WOMEN & HEART DISEASE: The CDC lists heart disease as the #1 killer of women in the U.S. According to them:

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, killing 299,578 women in 2017—or about 1 in every 5 female deaths.2
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for African American and white women in the United States.
About 1 in 16 women age 20 and older (6.2%) have coronary heart disease

While diabetes is a major risk factor in women developing heart disease, there are several other risk factors including: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, unhealthy diet, obesity, and physical inactivity. Gender specific factors include include pregnancy-related factors such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and preterm birth, as well as polycystic ovary syndrome and early menopause.

Symptoms of heart disease for women can include 1) angina, 2) pain in the neck, jaw, or throat, 3) pain in the upper abdomen or back, 4) nausea or vomiting, and 5) fatigue. These symptoms may show up during daily activity or while resting.

LOWER YOUR RISK OF DIABETES & HEART DISEASE: How can you lower your risk of developing diabetes and heart disease? Diet and exercise!

You already know how important it is to eat healthy. What you eat affects all areas of your health - from how you feel on a daily basis to how your health will be long-term. When it comes to lowering your risk diabetes specifically, cutting out or limiting sugary foods and refined carbs can help immensely, particularly for people already at risk. So will losing weight if necessary. One way to limit or cut carbs is by following a low-carb diet such as the keto diet. Keto diets help improve cholesterol and lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. The Top Chef Meals menu of keto diet meals include Grilled Bison Burger w/Cheddar, Ham Egg & Asiago Frittata, Filet Mignon, and more - so you don’t need to fear missing out on taste. You can also eat the same type of meals a diabetic would eat since they are rich in nutrients and low in fat, sugars, carbohydrates and calories and limit simple sugars and refined carbs. The Top Chef Meals menu of diabetic meals includes delicious items such as Chicken Fajitas, Cajun Grilled Shrimp Skewers, Veggie Burger, and more. Top Chef Meals also offers low-fat, gluten-free meals and more, plus sensible portions to help you with weight loss goals.

When it comes to exercise, it’s vital to choose exercise that gets your heart rate up. This will increase your levels of good cholesterol and lower the bad plus improve glucose utilization by our cells, increasing insulin sensitivity. So, go for a walk or run around with the kids or take an online zumba class. As long as you find something that you enjoy doing you’ll keep at it.

THE ROUND-UP: Women may run the risk of developing diabetes, then heart disease - sometimes more than men - but you can lower your risks with just a few lifestyle tweaks such as diet and exercise. Make the healthy eating part even simpler by ordering from Top Chef Meals meals designed to be low-carb and low-sugar.