World Heart Day was last month and it acted as a reminder of the extent of heart disease and the positive changes that we can make to the way we eat and live our daily lives that will help to keep our hearts healthy. Here are some tips to keep you heart healthy
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the term used to describe a group of conditions that can affect the heart such as high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. It is still the lead cause of premature death in the UK and affects 1/3 of men and 1/5 of women. Coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke are the most common heart conditions in the UK. There are currently around 2.7 million people living with CHD and around 1.2 million who have suffered a stroke, which makes this a serious public health issue.
Risk factors for cardiovascular disease
There are a number of factors that can increase your risk of developing CVD. Smoking and being overweight or obese are the top causes and can be tackled with the right support and will power.
Risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- Physical inactivity
- Being overweight or obese
- Having diabetes
- Family history of CHD or stroke
- Your sex (men more likely to develop CHD earlier than women
The ultimate heart health diet
There has been a lot of research that has investigated the best way to eat to protect the heart, especially surrounding the Mediterranean diet. Most of the findings are common sense and follow the same basic principles of mainly plant-based foods that include plenty of antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables and fibre-rich wholegrains as well as healthy fats (mono-unsaturated and omega 3), lean proteins and limited processed foods that are often high in saturated fat, salt and sugar (components of the diet that are closely linked to heart disease risk when eaten excessively).
Many of these foods have also been found to help reduce inflammation in the body, which appears to underpin many diet related diseases, especially in those who are overweight or obese.
Heart healthy foods
- Salmon (omega 3 fatty acids)
- Red kidney beans (high fibre linked to weight loss and reducing cholesterol)
- Soya beans (soy isoflavones linked to lowering cholesterol)
- Leafy green vegetables (nutrient rich)
- Oats (beta-glucans shown to reduce cholesterol)
- Plant sterols (help to reduce cholesterol)
- Olive oil (rmonounsaturated fats help to reduce inflammation and cholesterol)
- Avocados (monounsaturated fats and potassium help to maintain fluid balance and blood pressure)
- Berries (rich in antioxidants including that help reduce inflammation)
Whilst foods should always come first, supplements can be a useful way to bridge the nutrition gap. If you do not include oily fish in your diet then you may benefit from taking a supplement that provides a good source of the omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA such as Healthspan Super Strength Omega 3. Dr Ross Walker, an eminent practicing cardiologist says: “There is an increasing body of scientific evidence demonstrating clearly that the active version of coenzyme Q10, ubiquinol, is a vital cofactor for good cardiovascular health. There are preliminary studies supporting its use for statin induced myalgia, supportive treatment for congestive cardiac failure and promotion of a healthy cholesterol profile. The addition of the most powerful form of vitamin E, the tocotrienols, along with omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B1, vitamin C and magnesium, makes Ubiquinol Max one of the most important supplements for cardiovascular support.”
Healthspan Ubiquinol Max with Tocotrienol Complex, 30-day supply at £32.95. www.healthspan.co.uk