We all know it’s important to look after our hearts, but how do we do that? Here are 10 simple daily habits you can adopt to keep your heart healthy.
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Heart and circulatory disease is one of the UK’s biggest killers despite related deaths falling faster than those of other diseases. If you want to keep your heart in great shape, here are 10 things you can do:
If your diet is high in salt, it’s likely that your blood pressure could be high, too - which means you have an increased risk of suffering from heart disease or stroke.
The recommended maximum daily intake of salt is just 6g for adults and 3g for children (2.5g of salt is the equivalent of 1g of sodium).
Cut down by trying not to use salt at the table and reducing how much you use in cooking.
Also, keep an eye on food labels to see how much salt you’re eating in processed foods.
Foods with over 1.5g salt or 0.6g sodium per 100g are high, so avoid them wherever possible.
Too much sugar, meanwhile, could lead to weight gain, which can raise your blood pressure and cause diabetes and heart disease.
If you have a sweet tooth, try switching to fresh fruit with yoghurt instead of sweetened puddings and cakes. Our guide on combatting sweet cravings will also give you more ideas.
Eating too much saturated fat - found in butter, ghee, margarine, fatty meats, dairy, and processed foods such as pies, pastries, and cakes - is believed to increase cholesterol levels.
So, switch to semi-skimmed milk and low-fat dairy foods instead of full-fat ones, choose lean cuts of meats, and steam or grill instead of frying.
The more white you see on a cut of meat, the higher in saturated fat it is.
Potassium can help to lower your blood pressure, so aim to increase how much of it is in your diet by eating at least five portions of fruit and veg a day.
The vitamins, minerals, and fibre in fruit and veg may also help keep your heart healthy.
Fruits and vegetables that are high in soluble fibre may lower your cholesterol. This includes citrus fruits, sweet potato, aubergine, mango, and most beans and pulses.
Plant-based proteins are good for you and also good for the planet. If you only eat plant-based proteins, make sure to mix up your protein sources as much as possible. Soy-based proteins like tofu are the only vegan sources to contain all the essential amino acids we need.
Wholegrain foods will also help to fill you up for longer and are better for your heart because they’re less processed.
Oily fish such as pilchards, sardines, mackerel, salmon, and fresh tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These are thought to be particularly beneficial for your heart because they improve your cholesterol levels.
If you’re a vegetarian, you can get omega-3 fats from spinach, wheat germ, walnuts, flaxseed and flaxseed oil, soya, canola oil, and pumpkin seeds.
Smoking is one of the main causes of cardiovascular disease. Smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack compared to those who’ve never smoked.
It not only damages the lining of your arteries but reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood and raises your blood pressure.
If you’ve struggled with giving up smoking before, ask your GP about NHS Stop Smoking services in your local area.
Alcohol can cause high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, and damage to the heart muscle.
You don’t have to give it up completely. Just follow the guidelines, which are two to three units a day for women and three to four for men. Find out more by visiting the Drinkaware Website.
Studies show that inactive people are more likely to have a heart attack than those who are active.
Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week to lower your risk of developing coronary heart disease.
You can split up the 150 minutes any way you like. For instance, have a brisk 30-minute walk every lunchtime during the week.
The longer you sit for, the more detrimental it can be for your heart. Try to get up and move at least once an hour, to boost your circulation and improve your heart health.
If you’re heavier than you should be, your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes is above normal.
Eating less sugar and saturated fat, while cutting back on alcohol, eating more fruit and veg and getting more exercise, can all help you lose excess pounds - and keep those pounds off in the long term.
There’s a strong link between your gum health and your heart health. Flossing helps to remove plaque from your teeth, which, if not removed, can lead to tooth decay and tooth loss.
A recent studied showed that periodontal disease can almost double your risk of developing heart disease.
If you’re under a lot of stress, you may be more likely to smoke, exercise less, and drink more than a moderate amount of alcohol - all of which are linked with heart problems.
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