What are the benefits of a healthy diet in prevention of heart disease?

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I am 14 years old and for my high school physical education class, I am researching for a 15-minute presentation on health. My topic is the benefits of a healthy diet. I was wondering if you could briefly name some of the benefits. Of particular interest was the prevention of heart disease. I once heard that women are more likely to die of a heart attack than men are. Is this true?

What role does diet play in a healthy heart? Your help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Benefits of a healthy diet are:

  • longer life
  • higher quality of life (interpret this as more fun and less illness)
  • lower risk of heart disease
  • cancer
  • stroke
  • diabetes

Men’s risk of dying from a heart attack is increased between the ages of 40 and 55. A woman’s hormones, in particular, estrogen, reduce this risk until menopause. A women’s risk of dying from a heart attack increases for the first 10 years after the start of menopause.

People who eat foods high in saturated fat, don’t exercise and eat more calories than they need to maintain a healthy weight increase their risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, 14-year-olds aren’t motivated to prevent heart disease and think that it only happens when you get old. Heart disease takes a long time to develop and usually starts with teenagers or even children who are overweight for height.

However, smoking is a great or even greater factor than eating lots of saturated and trans fats. Tell your classmates not to start smoking and if they do, tell them to stop because their breath and clothes smell.

If you would like to use some visuals, fill several test tubes with melted white shortening. Put 1 teaspoon in tube #1, 2 teaspoons in tube #2, 3 teaspoons in tube #3, etc. Then go to a fast food restaurant and pick up the nutrition information for their foods. Using the nutrition info, show your classmates how much fat is in a small or large order of fries or a bacon double cheeseburger. Every 5 grams of fat equals 1 tsp of shortening, butter or oil. Perhaps that would impress your classmates when they see how much fat is in an order of fries.

Please write back and tell me how your presentation went and what you said.