Healthy Eating

12 Ways To Better Heart Health

  • 12 Ways To Better Heart HealthSwap butter for oil
    While too much fat is a recipe for heart disease, the type of fat you eat is crucial too. “Too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in your blood, which can increase your risk of developing coronary heart disease, so, wherever possible, replace with small amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats,” says Philippa Hobson, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation (BHF). “These fats provide essential fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins so they’re an important part of your diet.”

    How often?

    No more than 20 percent of your diet should be from fats, with the average woman consuming no more than 20g of saturated fat a day, and the average man no more than 30g a day.

  • Keep dancing
    We can’t all afford a gym membership, or have time for the treadmill – so do what you enjoy to get fit. A regular whirl on the dance floor has been linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular problems, with the benefit slightly better than walking. “The emphasis should be on doing exercise which raises your pulse and doing a variety of activities will stop you from getting bored,” adds Philippa from the BHF.

    How often?

    “Try to incorporate at least 150 minutes of exercise every week. This can be broken down into 10 minute chunks or an hour at a time – whatever you can practically bring into your normal day,” says Philippa.

  • 12 Ways To Better Heart HealthEat garlic
    Regular consumption of this pungent bulb has been shown to slash heart disease and stroke, reducing blood pressure and lowering cholesterol. “Garlic has preventative properties too, such as reducing plaque formation in the arteries,” says nutritional therapist Sara Kirkham (nutritionsolutions. org.uk), author of Cholesterol – The Essential Guide. “It also reduces LDL (i.e. ‘bad’ cholesterol) oxidation and ‘thins’ the blood through its anticoagulant effects.”

    How often?

    “One study showed significant benefits if consumed at 0.2g, perkg, perday, so if you weigh 60kg you should consume around four cloves of garlic daily,” says Sara.

  • 12 Ways To Better Heart HealthAdd anthocyanin-rich foods to your diet
    Foods with natural red, blue and purple pigments such as red grapes, red cabbage, blackcurrants and raspberries are rich in anthocyanins, a heart-healthy antioxidant that boosts the immune system and prevents cardiovascular disease. “The sweet-fleshed, violetpurple Okinawan sweet potato contains a watersoluble pigment that possess a high amount of anthocyanin,” recommends nutritionist Emma Scott (nutrilife.uk.com). “Sweet potatoes are also a good source of vitamin B6, which is brilliant at breaking down homocysteine, a substance that contributes to the hardening of blood vessels and arteries. Its potassium content further helps by lowering blood pressure through maintaining fluid balance and regulating the heartbeat.”

    How often?

    Eat a rainbow of different fruits and vegetables every day.

  • Get rowing
    Exercises that work multiple muscles should definitely be part of your tickertraining plan. This is because the heart has to work harder to fuel all that muscle activity. “Rowing is particularly good for the heart because it really challenges your aerobic system,” says PT Laura Williams (laurawilliamsonline. co.uk). “And it’s a myth that it’s just an upper body exercise, with lower back, abs, hamstrings, glutes and quads all having to work overtime. Technique is key: drive through the heels so you work the lower and upper body equally.”

    How often?

    “Rowing two or three times a week, and varying the duration and pace, will mean you see results quickly,” Laura advises.

  • 12 Ways To Better Heart HealthGo nuts
    “Nuts are a great source of magnesium, which helps to regulate the heart beat,” says Sara Kirkham. “The fats in nuts also contribute to healthy cholesterol levels.”

    How often?

    “A third of a cup of almonds can provide approximately 129mg of magnesium, which gives around 40 percent of the daily RNI,” recommends Sara. “Although recent research has shown that we absorb less fat from nuts eaten in their natural state, they are still calorific, so top up with magnesium-rich beans, lentils or dark leafy green veg the rest of the time.”

  • 12 Ways To Better Heart HealthGet walking
    Walking is an often-overlooked alternative to the gym, with recent research suggesting walking speed can act as a predictor of heart disease risk. The study, published in the European Heart Journal, found those who walked slowly showed a twofold increase in cardiovascular mortality compared with those who walked briskly. “Pace is key,” agrees PT Laura. “You need to ensure you’re getting out of breath and sweaty for it to really make a difference.”

    How often?

    Try to incorporate 30-60 minutes of walking a day (or around 10,000 steps). Walk at a speed of 5km per hour (or ensure your heart is at 110 to 120 beats per minute).

  • Up your intensity at the gym
    “The cross trainer is a great way to include higher intensity training (HIIT) into your routine with tougher intervals that can elevate the heart rate,” says PT Laura. “Plus it doesn’t have the impact that comes with running or other sports.”

    How often?

    Try to incorporate HIIT exercises such as the cross trainer into your fitness regime two or three times a week.

  • 12 Ways To Better Heart HealthStock up on juicy fruits
    “Red fruits (as well as pistachios and peanut butter) produce ‘resveratrol’, which boasts both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The antioxidant helps combat toxins and protects the body against damage,” says nutritionist Emma. “Resveratrol also helps to reduce inflammation, lower LDL, and keeps platelets in the blood from sticking together, which can lead to a heart attack.”

    How often?

    Incorporate daily to boost your cardiac health.

Health & Wellbeing