With Valentine’s Day approaching, it’s important that you look after things people love about you; your mind, your body and especially your heart.
Your heart keeps you alive by pumping blood around your body 24 hours a day for every day of your life so it makes sense to look after it. You can help reduce the risk of developing many types of heart disease by making some lifestyle changes. Here are a few tips:-
Eating an unhealthy diet high in fat can lead to hardening of the arteries and increase your risk of heart attacks. There are two types of fat- saturated and unsaturated. Avoid foods containing high levels of saturated fat because they increase levels of bad cholesterol in your blood.
Foods high in saturated fat include:
- meat pies
- sausages and fatty cuts of meat
- ghee (a type of butter often used in Indian cooking)
- hard cheese
- cakes and biscuits
- foods that contain coconut or palm oil
Eating a small amount of unsaturated fat will increase the level of good cholesterol and help reduce any blockage in your arteries. Foods high in unsaturated fat include:
- oily fish
- nuts and seeds
- sunflower, rapeseed and olive oil
Smoking is a major risk factor for heart attacks because it causes atherosclerosis and raises blood pressure. Everytime you smoke, you are adding a layer of tar in the your heart arteries and progressively this will cause further narrowing of the heart arteries.
If you drink alcohol, do not exceed the recommended daily limits (no more than three to four units a day for men, and two to three units a day for women). A unit of alcohol is roughly half a pint of normal strength lager, a small glass of wine, or a single measure (25ml) of spirits.
Regularly exceeding the recommended alcohol limits will raise your blood pressure and cholesterol level, increasing your risk of another heart attack.
Avoid binge drinking (drinking more than three alcoholic drinks in one to two hours). Binge drinking can cause a sudden and large rise in your blood pressure, which could be potentially dangerous.
Make sure you are a healthy weight.
If you are overweight or obese, it is recommended you lose weight and then maintain a healthy weight using a combination of exercise and a calorie-controlled diet.
Regular physical activity
Physical activity is activity that requires you to use more energy than when you are resting. It can include activities such as walking or gardening. The aim is to reach a stage where you are slightly out of breath
Healthy adults should do at least 150 minutes (two and-a-half hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as cycling or fast walking) every week.
The level of activity should be strenuous enough to leave you slightly breathless.
Hopefully you already take good care of your heart and if you don’t, its never to late to start. With very good care, you may even be able to reverse some of the damage that has already been done. If you ever have any concerns about the health of your heart and want to discuss further, drop me an email.
best wishes for a very happy (and healthy) Valentine’s day!