11 Tips to Improve your Heart Health
A healthy lifestyle will make your heart healthier. Here are 11 simple things you can do to look after your heart.
1) Get your 5 a day
UK dietary advice for adults includes recommendations to eat at least 5 portions of fruit & vegetables everyday (400g in total), reduce consumption of saturated fat, limit salt intake to no more than 6g daily for adults, eat 2 portions of fish a week (1 portion should be oily) and increase consumption of fibre-rich foods such as lentils, whole grains and nuts. This advice comes from public health and clinical guidance aimed at preventing cardiovascular disease.
By eating at least minimum of 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, you’re getting a great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals.
There are lots of tasty ways to get your 5 A Day, like adding chopped fruit to cereal or simply including vegetables in your pasta sauces and curries.
2) Reduce your body fat
As body weight rises, so does the risk for plaque build-up in our arteries and a heart attack.
Being overweight is linked to several major risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and bad cholesterol.
What’s good for your heart is also great for losing belly fat.
Obesity can lead to heart failure, an extremely serious condition in which the heart is incapable of pumping enough blood to meet the body’s needs.
Numerous studies over the years have found that belly fat is particularly dangerous. In fact, in one recent study here, a pot belly even in people who were otherwise normal weight dramatically increased the risk of mortality.
Fat around the belly doesn’t just sit there, taking up space. It pumps out chemicals like cytokines that trigger chronic inflammation throughout the whole body. That’s a big problem because chronic inflammation is thought to be one of the major factors linking obesity to various life-crippling diseases, such as heart disease.
Fat cells in the belly also produce chemicals, including steroid hormones, which make you more susceptible to gain fat. Yes, it’s a vicious cycle which is hard to break. The more fat that you have around your belly, the more fat-storage hormones you produce and the harder it is to lose weight.
There are even more hormonal horrors. When belly fat reaches abdominal obesity levels (a waist greater than 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men), another fat-storage hormone called insulin is often negatively affected, creating even more problems for our metabolism.
3) Manage your weight
Being overweight can significantly increase the risk of heart disease. So by sticking to a healthy, balanced diet low in fat and sugar, with plenty of fruit and vegetables, combined with regular physical activity, will help.
In numerous studies, regular exercise has been proven to have profound and numerous health benefits. States the Centers for Disease Control in America stated here that “Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health.” It can help:
- - Control weight
- - Decrease risk of heart disease
- - Improve body composition (your fat-to-muscle ratio)
- - Lower blood sugar & also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes
- - Lower blood pressure & reduce the risk of hypertension
- - Reduce the risk of some cancers
- - Strengthen bones
- - Reduce stress
- - Improve sleep
- - Improve your ability to perform daily activities and improves your balance
- - Increase your chances of living longer
4) Eat more fibre
Getting enough fibre is important for your overall health.
For example, it can reduce constipation and help with weight loss and maintenance.
It can also lower cholesterol levels, as well as your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
This may be because some types of fibre promote healthy gut bacteria.
The Institute of Medicine in America recommends 38 grams per day for men and 25 grams for women.
Americans average only around 16 grams of fibre per day, which is about half of the daily recommended amount. So by eating plenty of fibre, it will help lower your risk of heart disease.
Eat fibre from a variety of sources, such as wholemeal bread, bran, oats and wholegrain cereals, potatoes with their skins on, and of course plenty of fruit and veg.
5) Cut down on salt
To maintain healthy blood pressure, avoid using salt at the table and try adding less to your food during cooking. Once you get used to the taste of food without added salt and you will, you can cut it out completely.
Watch out for ready-made foods as they tend to have high levels of salt in them. Most of the salt we eat is already in the foods we buy, so keeping an eye on food labelling is essential.
But how much is too much? Well, if you check the 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 no more than 6g of salt a day in total – that's only about 1 teaspoon.
A healthy alternative to table salt is pink Himalayan salt which contains approximately 80 trace minerals. The salt consists of trace minerals, such as calcium potassium and magnesium which gives the salt its light pink colour.
Recent research here has suggested that eating salt can reduce the risk of infection and kill harmful bacteria. One study here on animals has also led researchers to infer that the salt may have a positive effect on depression.
6) Cut down on saturated fat
Eating foods that are high in saturated fat can raise the cholesterol levels in your blood. This increases your risk of heart disease and can be easy to cut out. Choose leaner cuts of meat and low-fat dairy products like 1% fat milk over full-fat (or whole) milk.
7) Eat fish
Eat fish at least twice a week and make sure that 1 of those portions is oily fish. Fish such as pilchards, sardines and salmon are a great source of omega-3 fats, which may help protect against heart disease.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women shouldn’t have more than 2 portions of oily fish per week.
8) Drink less alcohol
Most people tend to forget that alcohol contains calories and assume that calories are only in food. Regularly drinking more than the recommended limits can have a noticeable impact on your waist.
It is recommended that the weekly limit for men should be no more than 17 alcohol units and women should not consume more than 11 units.
A unit is the equivalent to a half pint of beer, a pub measure of spirits and a small glass of wine, according to guidelines from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).
Try to keep within the recommended daily alcohol limits to reduce the risk of serious problems with your health, including risks to your heart health.
9) Give up smoking
If you're a smoker you have to quit. It's the best thing you can do for your heart health. Smoking is one of the biggest causes of coronary heart disease. A year after giving up, your risk of a heart attack falls to about 50% that of a smoker.
You're more likely to stop smoking for good if you use a stop smoking service or join a face to face support group.
Did you know that in the U.S. alone, tobacco kills the equivalent of 3 jumbo jets full of people crashing every day, with no survivors?
Here is a sampling of the serious, life-threatening conditions that are the direct result that smoking causes::
- - Heart disease
- - Breathing problems
- - Lung cancer
- - Kidney cancer
- - Emphysema
Moreover, the scientific studies are consistent that when you smoke, the people around you, especially children, are at risk of developing serious health problems.
10) Try to cut out stress
The dog next door is barking in the early hours of the morning. The checkout line at the supermarket is 10 people deep. Your car battery just went flat and you can’t get to work on time.
How do you react to each of these situations above? Are you stressing out or are you calm? When life’s hurdles get the better of us, it can contribute to everything from high blood pressure to irritable bowel syndrome.
The link between stress and our hearts is serious. Studies have shown that earthquakes and Mondays double the incidence of heart attacks and that heart disease kills men three times as frequently in the year following the death of their wife.
Feeling stressed can also lead to behaviours that increase heart disease risk, such as smoking, skipping exercise and skipping out to snack on our favourite fast food.
11) Try Heart Essentials
Heart Essentials is a unique formulation of nitric oxide, l-arginine, l-citrulline and key vitamins and minerals which helps the cardiovascular system work properly.
Nitric oxide’s role in the body was first discovered by Dr Louis Ignarro – work for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1998.
Nitric oxide occurs naturally in the body and as we age, nitric oxide depletes by up to 85%. However, we can replenish this through supplementation.
The dosage is perfectly safe as we are simply returning to the body what it has lost through ageing. Also, as nitric oxide doesn’t travel well, Irish-made Heart Essentials retains potency on its short journey to you, the consumer. It’s very easy on the stomach, it also has a pleasant citrus berry flavour.
Heart Essentials also contains the following:
● L-arginine – an essential amino acid which the body converts to nitric oxide.
● L-citrulline – an amino acid that, via a complex process, converts to nitric oxide in the body.
● Vitamin C – helps to protect cells in the body from oxidative stress.
● Vitamin D – known as ‘sunshine vitamin’ which helps the body absorb calcium for bone health. Which is vital to many complex functions within the body
● Vitamin B6 – metabolises protein & glucose during exercise. It also contributes to normal homocysteine metabolism and normal red blood cell formation
● Vitamin B12 – helps to convert carbohydrates, proteins, fats and iron into food. Plus it’s Involved in red blood cell production and contributes to the normal immune system.
● Vitamin K2 – excellent for blood clotting
● Folic acid – contributes to normal homocysteine metabolism and contributes to normal blood formation
● Thiamine – assists in the normal function of the heart
Directions for use
Mix one 10g serving with 240ml of water or your favourite juice and just stir to dissolve. Or just simply add to your favourite breakfast cereal, yoghurt or smoothie. There is a scoop measure provided in the tub.
You can buy Heart Essentials in various chemists throughout Ireland. A list of our current stockists can be found here.
Alternatively, you can buy it right now from our website with the convenience of having it delivered to your door for free within 1-2 working days.