Here are 10 steps you can take to look after your heart.
If you’re a smoker, try to quit – it’s probably the best thing you can do for your heart. Smoking is one of the main causes of coronary heart disease. If you have given up smoking for a year, your risk of a heart attack falls to about half of that of a smoker.
NHS stop smoking services can help you to stop smoking for good. Visit the Smokefree website or ask your doctor for help with quitting.
Stay active if possible
Getting – and staying – active can reduce your risk of developing heart disease. It can also boost your mood and help ease stress.
If you are able to, aim to do 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week, such as going for a walk or swimming. One way to achieve this target is by doing 30 minutes of activity on five days a week.
Watch your weight
Being overweight can increase your risk of heart disease. Stick to a balanced diet, full of lots of fruits and vegetables, and which is low in fat and sugar. Find out if you are a healthy weight with the BMI calculator.
Eat more fibre
Eat lots of fibre to help lower your risk of heart disease. Aim for at least 30g a day. Wholemeal bread, bran, oats and wholegrain cereals, potatoes with their skins on, and fruit and vegetables are good sources of fibre.
Cut down on saturated fat
Eating too many foods that are high in saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood, which increases your risk of heart disease. Choose leaner cuts of meat and lower-fat dairy products such as 1% fat milk over full-fat milk.
Eat your five a day
Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day. They’re a good source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. There are lots of ways to get your five a day, like adding chopped fruit to cereal or including vegetables in your pasta sauces and curries.
Eat fish at least twice a week, including a portion of oily fish. Fish like mackerel, sardines, salmon and fresh tuna are a source of omega-3 fats, which can help protect against heart disease.
Drink less alcohol
Alcohol contains calories. Regularly drinking more than the NHS recommends can have a noticeable impact on your waistline. Try to stick to the recommended daily alcohol limits to reduce the risk of serious problems with your health, including risks to your heart health.
Cut down on salt
To maintain a healthy blood pressure, avoid having salt at the table, and try adding less to your cooking. Once you get used to the taste of food without added salt, you can cut it out of your diet completely.
Look out for high salt levels in ready-made foods. Most of the salt we eat is already in the foods we purchase. 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 less than 6g of salt a day in total – that’s about one teaspoon.
Look at the food label
When shopping, it’s a good idea to read the label on food and drink packaging to see how many calories and how much fat, salt and sugar the product contains. Knowing what is in food and how it fits in with the rest of your diet will help you to make healthier choices.
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