Heart disease affects about one in six men and one in ten women. To avoid becoming part of these statistics, a relatively healthy lifestyle is a must.
It can be hard to give up the saturated fats and all those meat pies, sausages, butter and hard cheeses, let alone those deliciously naughty desserts. But a healthy diet helps prevent blockages in your arteries – a major cause of heart problems – so you’ll need to get used to healthy eating. Healthy heart foods include:
- Dark leafy greens like broccoli, kale, spinach and cabbage which detox the bloodstream.
- Garlic, a strong anti-parasitic and anti-bacterial food, to thin the blood.
- Walnuts to provide Omega-3 fatty acids which keep triglycerides (blood fats) to healthy levels as well as help curb stiff and painful joints from rheumatoid arthritis.
- Blueberries, pomegranates, prunes, Brussel sprouts, beetroots and red peppers – all sources of antioxidants.
- Coconut oil, green onions, leeks and radishes for healthy fat metabolism.
- Beans and peas for fibre to release complex carbohydrates to stabilise blood sugar levels.
The British Heart Foundation provides useful facts on how to prevent heart disease.
Eating the right foods goes a long way to helping you maintain a healthy heart. Meanwhile, safer cholesterol levels will help your body regulate its blood pressure to healthy levels. Heart UK provides useful advice on how to reduce your cholesterol levels through a good diet.
Manage your weight
We know cutting down on sugar isn’t always easy but too much sugar can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes which are common causes of coronary heart disease.
We can often be fooled by clever advertising and deceptive labelling which can make us think that some foods are healthy when, in fact, they are loaded with hidden sugars. Usual suspects include fruit juices, cereals and canned drinks: check the label carefully before you buy what you think is a low sugar variant. Even unsweetened fruit juice contains sugar, so try to stick to one glass (about 150ml) a day.
Your GP or nurse can help to calculate your ideal weight and adopt a better balanced diet should it need tweaking. They’ll determine your Body Mass Index (BMI) by taking into account your height and weight and advise whether heart disease is a risk. Alternatively, you can calculate your own BMI and learn more about what this means to your health.
Like it or not, keeping active helps keep your weight and blood circulation at healthy levels. You can do this by including just 20 minutes of moderate exercise into your day – you probably won’t notice you are doing it! Our article on “5 easy ways to fit exercise into your day” explains how.
Give up smoking
It’s no secret that smoking is bad for you. It increases your risk of heart disease and the chance of developing atherosclerosis. It’s also a leading cause of coronary thrombosis in people under the age of 50.
The NHS website explains the simple steps you can take to successfully give up smoking once and for all.
So there are many ways to dramatically reduce your chances of heart disease. Getting the right combination not only eliminates the risks, it can make you feel healthier and fitter too.