JSU Newswire
Jacksonville, Alabama

Debra Goodwin Recommends
Being Proactive about Heart Disease

JACKSONVILLE -- April 10, 2002 -- Heart disease is today’s number one cause of death in women over 50, according to Jacksonville State University’s Debra Goodwin, instructor of family and consumer sciences.

“Being proactive about heart disease may help women decrease their risk of developing the disease,” said Ms. Goodwin, who is pursuing her doctorate at the University of Alabama.

According to Goodwin, being proactive means paying attention to six risk factors.

  • AGE “As a woman ages, her risk for heart disease becomes greater.”
  • FAMILY HISTORY “Heart disease tends to run in families.”
  • RACIAL HERITAGE “African-American women are at greater risk.”
  • SMOKING “A woman who smokes is nearly five and a half times more likely to develop heart disease than a woman who does not.”
  • LACK OF EXERCISE “Inactivity increases the risk of obesity and heart disease.”
  • POOR DIET “The average American diet, which is high in fat, high in sugar and low in fiber, usually correlates with higher risk of heart disease.”
In addition to knowing the risk factors, another proactive step is for women to decrease the amount of fat in her diet. Goodwin provides the following tips:

  • Practice portion control. Know the difference between servings and helpings. A serving of meat should weigh about three ounces, which is about the size of a deck of cards.
  • Trim and remove all skin and fat from meat and poultry before cooking.
  • Do not fry foods.
  • Choose low-fat milk and cheese.
  • Use low-fat mayonnaise and salad dressings.
  • Read labels and know how much fat is in the food you eat. You may be surprised. A frozen chicken pot pie has over 20 grams of fat.
In addition to eating low-fat foods, women should decrease their intake of trans fats as well. Trans fatty acids are formed when hydrogen is added to liquid vegetable oils such as corn oil. This process is called hydrogenation, and it causes vegetable oil to be more solid and more saturated. This increases the risk of heart disease. To avoid trans fatty acids, read labels and avoid foods that contain high amounts of “hydrogenated fat” or “partially hydrogenated fat.”

“If these terms are among the first three ingredients, there is substantial trans fats, so you should keep looking for a food that lists hydrogenated fats further down on the list of ingredients or look for new products that carry the phrase “no trans fats.”

Goodwin also encourages women to eat the recommended daily amount of fiber--between 20 and 35 grams per day. The best sources of fiber are whole-grain cereal, whole grain bread, fruits, vegetables and dried beans and peas. A half-cup of pinto beans contains 10 grams of fiber, or half the recommendation.

And Goodwin warns that Americans consume too much sugar in the form of simple sugars that sweeten such items as soft drinks.

“It is reported that the average American drinks about 40 gallons of soft drinks a year. That calculates out to be around 60,000 calories. When we add other sweets like candy and donuts, we are consuming a large amount of simple sugars,” she said.

“The recommendation for simple sugar intake for a healthy diet is around ten percent of the total calories consumed. However, the average intake in America is about 25 percent of total calories. Food producers use a variety of terms for sugar. These include sucrose, glucose, maltose, dextrose, fructose and corn syrup. If any of these terms are listed first or at the top of the list of ingredients there is probably a lot of sugar in the food.”

For more information, contact the nutrition faculty and students in the Family & Consumer Sciences Department at JSU at 782-5054.


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