Simple Tips For Looking After Your Heart

We all want to live longer, don't we? Well, there are certain things we can do to look after ourselves and look after our heart. Here is a roundup of advice from respected websites, research and the NHS.

Eat Healthily

I'm a firm believer in everything in moderation but there are some things you can do to actively look after your heart. 

Current advice is that a balanced diet should contain at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. This doesn't have to be fresh fruit, it can also be frozen, tinned or dried. You can only count fruit juice, beans and pulses once in this equation.

Too much saturated fat and trans fat in your diet can increase the amount of cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease so try and replace them with polyunsaturated fat and monosaturated fats.

Rapeseed oil contains less saturated fat than all commonly used cooking oils so when you are looking for an oil to cook with it's a good choice. Replacing saturated fats with some unsaturated fats such as rapeseed oil, as part of a healthy balanced diet has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood, which may help to lower the risk of heart disease.

Fish oils can also be added to the diet, either by eating oily fish twice a week or as a supplement. Fish oils contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to help protect the heart.  Always check with a pharmacist or your doctor if you are considering taking fish oils or vitamin supplements and are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Reducing salt can help your blood pressure remain low, and adults should eat less than 6g of salt a day.

Get Active

It's well documented that an active lifestyle can reduce your risk of heart disease. Adults should do 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. You need to be active enough to be out of breath, so try an aerobics class, cycling or even brisk walking.

Simple things you can do include trying to not sit down for long periods and build more activity into your lifestyle. On lunch breaks go for a walk, on coffee breaks walk around the office. If you work from home, make sure you get outdoors a couple of times a day to get some fresh air and exercise. Exercise also helps with stress and helps lower your blood pressure.

Check out these NHS guidelines for more information. 

Quit smoking

If you are a smoker, quitting smoking will be the best thing you can do for your heart as smokers are twice as likely to have a heart attack as someone who has never smoked. If you live with smokers too this can also increase your risk of a heart attack. Many thousands of people in the UK have already quit smoking with the help of an e-cigarette. There's growing evidence that they can be effective at helping you transition. If you’re serious about quitting speak to a vaping expert. They have a team of experts, many of whom have quit smoking themselves. They can discuss vape kits & introduce you to e liquids giving you more of a chance of successfully making the switch.

For help with quitting smoking, ask your GP for advice. They can refer you to a specialist NHS stop smoking team and can prescribe treatment to help you stop. Popular stop smoking options are nicotine replacement therapy, and medication to stop the cravings. 

Deal with stress

Stress can affect your health and your heart, according to the American Heart Association.  Be sure to deal with any stressful life events in a proactive way. If you find that stress of daily life is causing you anxiety or emotional problems try talking to your family and friends. Talking often helps to solve problems and deal with stress.

It's not a sign of failure if you have to get professional help with your mental health. Check out this article here on online psychiatry to see how this can help deal with mental health issues.

Be a healthy weight

People with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 and above are considered 'obese'. It's a hard-hitting term but simply means you are 20 percent above your ideal weight. Why it is important is because it can put you at higher risk of health problems such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and more.

Eating less and moving more in the simplest terms will help you lose weight. There is a lot of advice on there on losing weight. If you do have a lot of weight to lose, ask your practice nurse/GP for advice and support.

Social support, such as joining a weight loss group has been shown to help you lose weight. If you are trying to lose weight on your own, a slow weight loss will help you lose fat and not muscle and is more achievable. Nutritional testing can help ensure you have no deficiencies before you attempt a diet. 

Limit alcohol 

Heavy drinking can damage the heart, however, some research suggests moderate drinking, less than 14 units a week could help protect it. It's important to also spread alcohol use throughout the week and avoid binge drinking. Drink alcohol with food to limit the effect on the body, and consider having a non-alcoholic drink in between your favourite glasses of wine, beer or spirits. 

Check out this article for a round-up of research into drinking alcohol and to make up your own mind. As always pay attention to up-to-date advice from respected medical professionals as things do change. If you are pregnant check out the advice for you as the Chief Medical Officer in the UK advises the safest approach is not to drink at all to keep risks at a minimum to the baby. 

Tell me, what do you do to look after your heart?

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  1. Diet is so important when it comes to health. Everyone needs to eat more natural whole foods like vegetables, wholegrains and fruits and reduce consumption of animal products, sugar and flour. Well done for raising awareness.

  2. My sister died of a heart attack at 37, so it is something I am very aware of although I must admit that I need to do more exercise

  3. Such great advice. I am very aware of good heart health, I have a heart condition and am trying hard to be more healthy.

  4. I’m really lacking some more exercise at the moment, but will do a bit more when the weather is better and we can be outside more.

  5. This is a great post, we are already using rapeseed oil and I am making sure our kids have their 5 a day. Trying to also incorporate more exercise and walking as the weather gets better.

  6. Some really great tips here. It's so important to look after your heart, my stepdad has a heart attack a few years back and so in my house we are a lot more careful about our health

  7. My Dad died of a heart attack so I try to look after myself, and encourage my kids to do so too.

  8. This is a really great post, lots of useful tips. I use Rapeseed oil, but I honestly didn't know it was any better for you. We really need to eat more veggies in this house though, although we do eat a lot of fruit x

  9. So many useful tips in this post! I really need to get into exercise a lot more!