Our hearts are amazing. While they’re healthy we rarely give them a second thought but there they are all day every day pumping away, sending blood around the body, making sure that all our organs are happy and healthy. But while it’s busy doing its vital work, are you doing your part? We all know that it’s important to be heart healthy and to take good care of the most important organ in the body but it can be hard to know exactly what we should be doing. Luckily there are some easy steps that you can take to make sure that you’re treating your heart just as well as it’s treating you.
Here are ten tips to keeping your heart in the best condition.
Eat Less Salt
You might be used to it but really you don’t need the saltshaker on the table. A diet with a high salt content can lead to high blood pressure which can raise your chances of developing heart disease or a stroke. You should be ingesting no more than 6g of salt per day and be aiming for foods with less than 1.5g or salt or 0.6g of sodium per 100g whenever possible. Use different herbs and spices to make your food tastier and more lay off the salt.
Bye bye bad fats
There are good fats and bad fats and while we need the good ones that you find in things like avocados, the bad ones contribute to raised cholesterol levels which is a known factor in heart disease. Swap your fatty food favourites and processed meals for fresh, homemade dishes for a healthier heart.
Get your five a day
We know we should be eating a rainbow but many of us find it difficult to fit that into our daily lives. Set yourself a challenge and try to make at least half of every meal veggie based and keep a fruit bowl where you normally go to reach for a quick snack and soon that challenge will become a habit.
Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to improve your cholesterol levels. Oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines are rich in Omega-3s. If you’re vegan or vegetarian you can get your omegas from things like pumpkin seeds, wheatgerm, spinach and a high quality oil like flaxseed or Udo’s Oil.
It goes without saying that everyone should quit smoking. Smokers are 50% more likely to have a heart attack than those that have never smoked. Smoking affects your arteries, blood pressure and blood oxygen levels.
Too much alcohol can have an adverse effect on blood pressure and the best thing to do is to stick the recommended weekly guidelines. Currently those guidelines are a limit of 17 standard drinks per week (over at least three days) for men and 11 standard drinks for women. A standard drink is a half pint of 4.5% lager, a small glass of wine or a pub measure of spirits.
Exercise plays a key role in staying heart healthy. Try and do some moderate exercise that raises your heartbeat at least twice a week. That can be walking, team sports, exercise classes or swimming.
A stressful day can feel inevitable but the way we deal with it needn’t be. Instead of turning to food or alcohol try a different coping mechanism. That could be mindfulness, a walk in the fresh air or a yoga class.
Watch your weight
The most important thing is to be fit and healthy but weight can be a factor in heart disease. Know the weight that’s right for you and make small adjustments if you feel yourself gaining or losing too much.
Supplement if needed
Take a supplement that supports heart health. Co-enzyme Q10 is the common name for Ubiquinone; a key component in the electron transfer system used by every cell in the body. It is found in high concentrations within the heart. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is used throughout the body to help keep the nervous system working supporting energy levels and heart health. One Nutrition Q10-Max has high strength 150mg Co-enzyme Q10 per capsule, contains Thiamine and is suitable for those taking statin drugs.