We’re all aware of the importance of taking good care of our heart health, but it can be difficult to know how.
Most cases of cardiovascular disease are preventable which means no matter our age, we all need to think about looking after our heart health.
From a heart healthy diet, to staying active and tackling stress here are ten simple changes you can make to start taking care of your heart health.
Here are 10 things you can do to take care of your heart health
1. Eat Less Salt
A diet high in salt can lead to high blood pressure, which can increase your risk of developing heart disease or a stroke. The maximum adult daily intake is no more than 6g of salt (2.5g of salt is the equivalent of 1g of sodium). Aim for foods that contain less than 1.5g salt or 0.6g sodium per 100g whenever possible. Try other herbs and spices to add flavour to your dishes such as:
- Sprinkle your potatoes with paprika, ground white or black pepper, chives or mild chilli powder
- Try oily fish like salmon (which is also good for your heart) with ginger, dill and spring onions
- Chop coriander into your curries
- Add garlic or basil to liven your pasta dishes
- Thyme and sage works well on chicken and turkey
2. Cut back on Sugar
There’s no evidence that sugar itself damages the heart, but eating too much can lead to weight gain, which can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
3. Keep Saturate Fat to a Minimum
Medical experts believe saturated fat – which is found in butter, ghee, margarine, fatty meats, dairy fats and processed foods such as pies, pastries and cakes – may increase cholesterol levels (high cholesterol is a known risk factor for heart problems).
4. Get Your Five a Day
Boost your intake of the mineral potassium by eating at least five portions of fruit and veg a day (potassium may help lower your blood pressure). The nutrients in fruit and veg – such as vitamins, minerals and fibre – may also help keep your heart healthy and lower your cholesterol.
5. Eat More Fish
Oily fish – such as pilchards, sardines, mackerel, salmon and fresh tuna – are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to improve your cholesterol levels. Vegetarians and vegans can get omega-3 fats from spinach, wheat germ, walnuts, flaxseed and flaxseed oil, soya and canola oil and pumpkin seeds.
Smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack as those who have never smoked, thanks to the way smoking damages your arteries, reduces your blood oxygen levels and raises your blood pressure. Find out how LloydsPharmacy can help you quit.
Too much alcohol can cause high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms and heart muscle damage. Stick to the current guideline for moderate alcohol drinking, which is 14 weekly units of alcohol spread evenly over at least three days. Here’s our top tips on how to keep your drinking under control.
8. Stay Active
Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week to lower your risk of developing heart disease. Split the 150 minutes up any way you like (five 30-minute sessions, or divide the 30 minutes into three 10-minute sessions). Not sure where to start? Here’s 10 exercises to fit into your day.
9. Keep Your Weight Healthy
If you’re overweight, your risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol is higher than normal. If you need help with shedding the pounds, ask your LloydsPharmacy team about products that can boost your weight loss – or shop online.
10. Tackle Stress
Being under too much pressure can make you smoke, not exercise enough and drink more alcohol than you should. Try to find ways to de-stress on a regular basis (whatever helps make you feel calm will work, as long as you do it regularly). Perhaps you want to take up mindfulness? Here’s our guide for beginners.