Keeping your heart healthy is vital, with about 1 in 6 men and 1 in 10 women dying from coronary heart disease (CHD) each year it’s more important than ever to keep our hearts fighting fit.
Keeping your heart healthy will also have other health benefits and will help reduce your risk of stroke and dementia. Here are a few tips to keep your heart in tip top shape:
- Stay active
Try to aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. This can be anything from brisk walking or cycling, to ballroom dancing. If you are new to exercise, start small and build yourself up, as any bout of exercise lasting 10 minutes or more counts towards your 150 minute target.
- Healthy balanced diet
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, cutting down on saturated fats and reducing salt in your diet can all contribute to a healthy heart. Look out for Reference Intakes (RI) on food packaging to guide your choices. Try to include more fibre rich food in your diet such as oats, pulses such as beans, peas or lentils have been shown to help lower cholesterol levels. Soya has also been shown to lower cholesterol and is a great vegetarian source of protein. Oily fish such as mackerel, sardines and salmon provide omega 3 fats which help keep your blood healthy, so try to eat at least one portion of oily fish a week. Alternatively for vegan or vegetarian diets, including a mix of nuts and seeds such as walnuts and linseeds that are high in omega 3 can help too.
Smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack compared with those who have never smoked. Stopping smoking has huge benefits and it’s never too late to give up.
Stress may contribute to your risk levels of developing CHD. If you often feel stressed or anxious, it is important to learn how to relax. Going for a walk and keeping active can help de-stress and take pressure off the heart.