Eating for a healthy heart

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A healthy diet, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight will help to keep you in good shape and reduce your risk of future health problems


Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death both in the UK and worldwide.

It's responsible for more than 73,000 deaths in the UK each year. About 1 in 6 men and 1 in 10 women die from CHD.

In the UK, there are an estimated 2.3 million people living with CHD and around 2 million people affected by angina (the most common symptom of coronary heart disease).

CHD generally affects more men than women, although from the age of 50 the chances of developing the condition are similar for both sexes.

What you eat and drink can have a real effect on your heart health. On a high-fat diet containing a lot of processed food, too much fat from the food goes into the blood and becomes deposited on the interior walls of the coronary arteries. In time an artery may become so narrow that it is unable to supply the heart with enough blood when it needs it – such as during exercise. Eventually the artery can become blocked, leading to a heart attack.

A healthy diet, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight will help to keep you in good shape and reduce your risk of future health problems.

By choosing to follow Rosemary’s diet and becoming more active day to day you have already taken important steps to looking after your heart – and your overall – health.

If you find it difficult to lose weight for yourself, then do it for your heart.

Here are our tips for a healthy heart.
Taken from the NHS Choices website:

Eat a healthy, balanced diet

A low-fat, high-fibre diet is recommended, which should include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (five portions a day) and whole grains.

You should limit the amount of salt you eat to no more than 6g (0.2oz) a day, as too much salt will increase your blood pressure. 6g of salt is about one teaspoonful.

There are two types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. You should avoid food containing saturated fats, because these will increase the levels of bad cholesterol in your blood.

Foods high in saturated fat include:
  • meat pies
  • sausages and fatty cuts of meat
  • butter
  • ghee – a type of butter often used in Indian cooking
  • lard
  • cream
  • hard cheese
  • cakes and biscuits
  • foods that contain coconut or palm oil
However, a balanced diet should still include unsaturated fats, which have been shown to increase levels of good cholesterol and help reduce any blockage in your arteries.
  • Foods high in unsaturated fat include:
  • oily fish
  • avocados
  • nuts and seeds
  • sunflower, rapeseed, olive and vegetable oils
You should also try to avoid too much sugar in your diet, as this can increase your chances of developing diabetes, which is proven to dramatically increase your chances of developing CHD.

Be more physically active

Combining a healthy diet with regular exercise is the best way of maintaining a healthy weight. Having a healthy weight reduces your chances of developing high blood pressure.

Regular exercise will make your heart and blood circulatory system more efficient, lower your cholesterol level, and also keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.

Give up smoking

If you smoke, giving up will reduce your risk of developing CHD. Smoking is a major risk factor for developing atherosclerosis (furring of the arteries). It also causes the majority of cases of coronary thrombosis in people under the age of 50.

Research has shown you are up to four times more likely to successfully give up smoking if you use NHS support together with stop-smoking medicines, such as patches or gum. Ask your doctor about this or visit NHS Smokefree.

Reduce your alcohol consumption

If you drink, don't exceed the maximum recommended limits.
  • men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week
  • spread your drinking over three days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week
Always avoid binge drinking, as this increases the risk of a heart attack.

Keep your blood pressure under control

You can keep your blood pressure under control by eating a healthy diet low in saturated fat, exercising regularly and, if required, taking the appropriate medication to lower your blood pressure.

Your target blood pressure should be below 140/85mmHg. If you have high blood pressure, ask your GP to check your blood pressure regularly.

Keep your diabetes under control

You have a greater risk of developing CHD if you are diabetic. If you have diabetes, being physically active and controlling your weight and blood pressure will help manage your blood sugar level.

If you are diabetic, your target blood pressure level should be below 130/80mmHg.

Take any medication prescribed for you

If you have CHD, you may be prescribed medication to help relieve your symptoms and stop further problems developing. If you do not have CHD but do have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or a history of family heart disease, your doctor may prescribe medication to prevent you developing heart-related problems.

If you are prescribed medication, it is vital you take it and follow the correct dosage. Do not stop taking your medication without consulting your doctor first, as doing so is likely to make your symptoms worse and put your health at risk.

For more information about healthy eating visit these websites:

http://www.drinkaware.co.uk 

http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Smoking-The-Facts.htm 

http://www.nhs.uk 

http://www.bhf.org.uk 

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/healthy-eating/Pages/Healthyeating.aspx
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