1. Watch your waistline
For heart health – reaching and maintaining a healthy body weight is important. While getting to your ideal body weight and staying there can be tricky at times – the health benefits are worth it. If you are overweight losing five to ten percent of your weight may have a positive effect on your heart health - including blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
2. Limit your intake of unhealthy fats
Watch how much saturated and trans fats you eat - limiting your intake of these fats may be helpful in managing healthy cholesterol levels. You can reduce your intake of these fats by trimming the fat off your meat or choosing lean cuts of meat. Other common sources of saturated and trans fats include margarine, bacon, butter, and cream.
3. Fill-up on fresh fruits & vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and fibre. They also contain phytonutrients that may help to keep your heart healthy. Diets high in fruits, vegetables and legumes have been seen to be protective against many different chronic conditions.
Try to incorporate lots of different fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet.
4. Increase your intake of whole grains
Whole grains are a good source of fibre – as well as vitamins and minerals. Whole grains, and whole grain products (breads, cereals, etc.) include all the parts of the grain, and are higher in fibre and nutrients than white and refined grains.
A diet rich in whole grains may help to protect heart health. Try a variety of grains in your diet - wheat, maize, rice, barley, oats, rye, millet, polenta, cous cous and quinoa are some great options.
5. Cut down on salt
High intakes of salt can result in an increase in blood pressure. While salt is found in nearly every food we eat, and around 75% of the salt we consume is found in processed foods.
You can cut down your salt intake by not adding salt to food while cooking, or at the table, and by reducing the amount of processed foods that you eat.
6. Stress less
Emotional stress can affect heart health. High stress situation can lead to an increase in blood pressure, and have other negative physical effects on the heart. Managing your stress is important for overall heart health.
There are many techniques you can try to help manage your stress. These include: breathing exercises, meditation, journaling, guided visualisations, proper nutrition, exercise and social support. Try each one to find which is best for you.
Physical activity and exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise is also important for heart health. Regular physical exercise can help reduce the risk of developing many chronic health conditions, including heart disease. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
8. Move just a little bit more
Another way to bump up the amount of activity in your day is to take little steps and incorporate more movement into your day. There are lots of things you could do to move more throughout your day, without really trying.
Try some of these:
- Park your car as far away from the door as you can and walk
- Take the stairs, instead of the lift or escalator
- Go for a walk on your lunch break
- Get up from your desk every hour and do a lap around the building
9. Stop smoking
This one almost goes without saying these days – but, if you smoke – stop!
If you’re a smoker the best thing you can do for your health, is to give the smokes away. Yes – it may be difficult, but the benefits are immeasurable. Smoking not only damages the lungs, but also damages the heart and blood vessels.