It pumps blood throughout your body, supplies oxygen and nutrients to every organ and removes metabolic wastes - it’s safe to say that your heart is responsible for doing some incredible things and that’s exactly why it’s so important to make sure it’s always the picture of health.

We’ve compiled a list of 10 simple tips for a healthy heart so you can take some steps toward a healthier and happier heart.


How Can I Make My Heart Healthy? 10 Simple Tips


Manage Stress Levels


Whether it’s cramming for exams or trying to hit work deadlines - stress can sometimes get the better of us. When you begin to stress, it has the power to affect behaviours and factors that increase heart disease risk; namely smoking, physical inactivity and overeating [1].

For a healthier heart, try to manage your stress levels[2]; treat yourself how you would treat a friend and spend some time doing the things that make you smile!


Get A Good Quantity And Quality of Sleep


Sleep is a vital component of everyone’s overall wellbeing - it allows our body to recharge and prepare for the day ahead. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity can be linked to a lack of sleep and as a result, your heart health[3].

That said, try to get at least 7 hours of good quality sleep each night[4].


Cut Down On Salt


If you’re eating too much salt, you’re not doing any favours to your heart. In fact, when you eat too much salt, the extra water stored in your body raises your blood pressure - this can make it harder for blood and oxygen to get to and from your heart[5].

It’s recommended that adults eat less than 1,500 mg of salt per day (that’s less than 1 teaspoon!)[6]- keep an eye on salt levels in ready-made foods and make a habit of checking food labels.


Avoid Saturated Fats


Consuming too much food that’s high in saturated fat can raise the levels of cholesterol in your blood, tip your cholesterol balance towards high LDL cholesterol (‘bad’ cholesterol) and may lead to the formation of blockages in your vessels [7].

So, the next time you’re shopping for your groceries - opt for lean meat, plenty of fruit and vegetables and fat-free or reduced-fat milk to avoid consuming unnecessary saturated fats.


Eat More Fish


The omega 3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fat that is present in fish. These fatty acids are known for decreasing triglycerides - a type of fat found in your blood, reducing blood pressure and reducing irregular heartbeats - each of which are more than positive for your heart health! [8].

Fatty fish such as sardines, cod, herring and light tuna are all a great source of omega 3 fatty acids.


Keep Your Food Clean


Think of your heart like your car - it works best when it runs on clean fuel. This means you should place emphasis on whole, plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds for optimum heart health[9].

One of the fastest ways to clean up your diet? Cut out fruit flavoured sugary drinks and indulge in some fresh fruit instead!


Get Some Exercise


Exercise can act as a mood booster and reduce stress levels - two things which can have major effects on your heart health[10].

Harvard Medical School says to look at exercise as “an insurance policy that may offer both short- and long-term protection for your heart”[9]; so get those sneakers on and fit some moderate exercise into your day to day routine - your heart will thank you!


Quit Smoking


Smoking is a major cause of coronary heart disease. A year after giving up, your risk of a heart attack can fall to about half that of a smoker [11].

Nobody said quitting was easy but the positive effects quitting smoking has on your heart and your overall health will give you the motivation you need!


Be Aware Of Diabetes


According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly a quarter of people with diabetes in the United States are undiagnosed [12]. As you can imagine, this is risky - high blood pressure caused by diabetes can damage arteries and put you at risk of heart disease [13].

Keep on top of your heart health and get your blood sugar levels tested by your doctor or test your cholesterol levels from the comfort of your own home.


Switch Up Your Chocolate


If you have a sweeth tooth, switching from milk chocolate to dark chocolate or fruit may just be beneficial to your heart health!

A study undertaken in Norfolk, England suggests that higher chocolate intake is associated with a lower risk of future heart-related issues [14]. In other words, it’s not necessary to entirely avoid chocolate if you’re concerned about your heart health.

Of course, there are some regulations - the European Food Safety Authority suggests that 200mg of cocoa flavonoids per day is the suggested target [15].


Are you considered about your heart health? LetsGetChecked’s home cholesterol test can indicate your risk of developing cardiovascular (heart) disease by looking at the amount of fat in your blood - early detection will provide for better clinical outcomes and allow you to make positive lifestyle changes.



Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director Dominic Rowley | Edited by Dani Roche


References

  1. American Heart Association. Stress and heart health. Online: heart.org, 2014
  2. D. Bhatt. “Stress” cardiomyopathy: A different kind of heart attack. Online: health.harvard.edu, 2019.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How does sleep affect your heart health? Online: cdc.gov, 2018.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How does sleep affect your heart health? Online: cdc.gov, 2018.
  5. American Heart Association. Get the Scoop on Sodium and Salt. Online: heart.org, 2018
  6. American Heart Association. How much sodium should I eat per day? Online: heart.org, 2018
  7. Harvard Medical School. The truth about fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between. Online: health.harvard.edu, 2019
  8. Mayo Clinic Staff. Omega-3 in fish: How eating fish helps your heart. Online: mayoclinic.org, 2019
  9. Mayo Clinic Staff. The power of a plant-based diet for heart health. Online: mayoclinic.org, 2019
  10. Harvard Medical School. The many ways exercise helps your heart. Online: health.harvard.edu, 2018
    11. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Online: niddk.nih.gov, 2017
  11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report. Online: cdc.gov, 2017
  12. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Online: niddk.nih.gov, 2017
  13. C. Shing Kwok, S. Matthijs Boekholdt and M. Lentjes Et. Al. Habitual chocolate consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease among healthy men and women. Aberdeen: Heart, 2015
  14. Harvard Medical School. Sweet dreams: eating chocolate prevents heart disease. Online: health.harvard.edu, 2015