Heart health is a hot topic and it’s an important thing to be aware of. Here at LetsGetChecked we have compiled a list of 10 simple tips for a healthy heart.
- 1. Manage Stress Levels
- 2. Quantity & Quality of Sleep
- 3. Cut Down on Salt
- 4. Avoid Saturated Fats
- 5. Eat More Fish
- 6. Keep Your Food Clean
- 7. Get That Exercise
- 8. Quit Smoking
- 9. Be Aware of Diabetes
- 10. Switch up Your Chocolate
1. Manage Stress Levels
Stress exposes your body to unhealthy levels of adrenaline and cortisol. Studies link stress to changes in the way blood clots which increases the risk of heart attack.
Stress is present in every living human being, but how we manage said stress is of real importance. Everyone has a different way of dealing with and managing it. To protect your heart, you should consider meditation, yoga, or exercise. Talk and laugh with people you are close with. Emotional wellness is just as important as physical wellness.
2. Quantity & Quality of Sleep
High amounts of calcium in the blood is linked with heart disease. Studies show that young individuals who don’t get enough sleep (less than 5 hours per night) or too much sleep (more than 9 hours per night) have higher amounts of calcium in their blood. Aiming for 7 hours of sleep is the healthiest option.
Quality sleep is important as it promotes the development of healthy arteries.
3. Cut Down on Salt
If you eat too much salt, the extra water stored in your body raises your blood pressure. If blood pressure gets too high, the extra force in your blood can damage artery walls and create scar tissue. That makes it harder for blood and oxygen to get to and from the heart. The heart has to pump harder and gets worn out more rapidly.
Watch out for high salt levels in ready-made foods. Most of the salt we eat is already in the foods we buy. Check food labels. A food is high in salt if it has more than 1.5g salt (or 0.6g sodium) per 100g. Adults should eat less than 6g of salt a day in total (that’s about one teaspoon).
4. Avoid Saturated Fats
Eating too much food that is high in saturated fats can raise the levels of cholesterol in your blood. Choosing lean meat and removing skin and visible fat is a great way to reduce the saturated fat content of your meals. If you’re using meats where the fat is difficult to remove, like mince, then choose the leanest version you can and then skim any excess that rises to the top during cooking.
5. Eat More Fish
If you can, you should try to eat fish at least twice a week, including a portion of oily fish. Fish such as mackerel, sardines, fresh tuna and salmon are a great source of omega-3 fats, which can help protect against heart disease.
6. Keep Your Food Clean
Much like a car, your heart works best when it runs on clean fuel. This means more emphasis should be on whole, plant-based foods like fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. One of the fastest ways to clean up your diet is to cut out all sugary drinks like minerals and fruit juice, as they lack fibre that’s in real fruit.
7. Get That Exercise
Getting and staying active has two major effects on your heart health. Exercise can act as a mood buster and can reduce stress.
The other effect is linked to the eating habits mentioned before. Both exercise and healthy eating affect body weight.
8. Quit Smoking
If you’re a smoker, quit. It’s the single best thing you can do if you want a healthy heart. Smoking is one of the main causes of coronary heart disease. A year after giving up, your risk of a heart attack can fall to about half that of a smoker.
9. Be Aware of Diabetes
There are millions of people living around the world unaware they have diabetes. That is very risky as high blood sugar caused by diabetes damages arteries and puts you at risk for heart disease.
You should get your blood sugar tested by your doctor if you are at risk of diabetes (if you are 45 or older, pregnant, overweight, etc.)
10. Switch up Your Chocolate
Switch from milk chocolate to dark chocolate. When eaten in moderation, dark chocolate is good for your heart. Furthermore, dark chocolate is considerably richer than milk chocolate and is harder to overindulge on for this reason.
Read more about Heart Health.
Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director Dominic Rowley