February is American Heath Month, which is especially important for women. Did you know that heart disease is the number one helath risk for women? I definitely did not. In fact, a recent survey by Quaker Oats shows that only 26 percent of women said minimizing the risk for heart disease was a top health priority. That has to change! Which is why the food company teamed up with Connie Britton to advocate for women’s heart health.
We had the chance to catch up with the actress and learn more about ways women can care for their hearts. Find out the breakfast food Connie swears by for a healthy heart, as well as her experience having a heart screening (it’s not scary at all!)
SHEfinds: So it’s American Heart Month. Can you tell me a little bit more about the importance of this month?
Connie Britton: Well I’m working with Quaker because they came to me and they are particularly advocating for women to know more about their own heart health. One of the things I didn’t realize is that heart disease is the number one health risk for women in the country, which I think is a shocking statistic and a statistic that not very many women know, not many people know. So since I like to speak out for women, I was really excited to see the work that Quaker has been doing. We actually visited a hospital recently, and the doctor that I talked to was talking about the great work that they have been doing, too, with heart health.
I just, for me, I just want to get the word out there for women to have this information and to start thinking about their own heart health as a priority and talking to each other about it, getting into conversations about it, supporting each other in taking care of themselves. So often women are the ones who take care of everybody else and they don’t take care of themselves, so that’s really what I’m doing here. I just, I’m always about encouraging women to take the time to take care of yourself because it’s good for everybody else, too.
SF: Right, it’s so important to do self-care. Do you have any advice for women who might be a little nervous about a heart health screening, or ambivalent if it’s their first time?
CB: Well I did it when I went to this hospital. I did a screening, and it was so simple. There’s nothing to be nervous about at all. You can incorporate it into just a routine physical exam, you know. I think, honestly, for women, more often than not it’s just about taking the time to do it because there’s nothing actually to be afraid of. It’s just, take the time to do it, you know? There’s so much about this, too, that is preventative, and, you know, part of prevention is if you can actually do a screening, you can find out how your heart is doing and really have the knowledge. Knowledge is power!
SF: Yeah, exactly! Do you have any diet or exercise tips for women that will help protect their hearts?
CB: Well yeah, because that’s another easy thing that we can do that’s very preventative. Certainly, if you can healthily and find a way to do that that feels like it works in your life, that’s so key and so important, and I think that’s the biggest thing. I think women, and men, too, but women tend to be so busy, so they’ll just grab whatever seems like the easiest thing to grab. It just takes a split second to think, “Okay, well I’m going to grab something easy, but I’m also going to grab something that’s going to be good for my body.”
What I love about oatmeal is that … Because a lot of women, too, who are mothers, will just eat whatever their kid is eating because they won’t have time to do both, so they’re just like “Okay, whatever you make for your kid, you’ll just eat a little bit of that, and that’s breakfast or lunch.” But the thing with oatmeal is, kids love oatmeal! I mean, my son loves oatmeal. I can make him oatmeal, and then I have a good, healthy breakfast. Boom, done, easy. If you can start to think about it that way, find things that genuinely taste good to you and good for your body.
SF: Yeah, what’s also great about oatmeal is you can kind of make it your own. You can add the toppings you want, whatever flavor you want. Do you have a favorite flavor?
CB: Well I always do, and I always do this for my son, too. I actually put a little coconut oil in, because it makes it really creamy and yummy, and it’s also very good for you. But then I always add almond milk and maple syrup, and it’s delish.
SF: Gonna have to try that! It sounds very good.
So diet, exercise, heart screenings, are there any other steps that women can take to protect their hearts?
CB: I think it’s different for everybody, and I also think it’s finding things that work in your life. For me, something that I find very effective is meditation, because as we know, stress has a big impact on the heart, as does lack of sleep, and so meditation is something that really helps. I think is really helpful for the heart. Again, it’s on a daily basis or whenever you can do it.
Learn more about women’s’ heart health and get some healthy oats recipes here.