Top tips for a healthy heart
6 ways to reduce the risk of heart disease
Follow the three-part rule
A healthy diet, without too much fat, is key to a healthy heart. A third of the food you eat should be made up of fruit and veg, another third of starchy food, such as bread, cereals and pasta, and the remaining third should be composed of protein, such as dairy, meat and fish. Within this third, limit the foods high in saturated fats, such as fatty meat, butter and hard cheese, replacing them with leaner cuts, or low-fat or fat-free options where possible.
Get salt savvy
Having too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure. The daily recommendation for adults is just six grams, or about one teaspoon. Try not to add salt to your meals and cut back on processed foods, which often contain a lot of salt. Check the labels before you buy – if sodium is listed in the ingredients, remember that just 1g of sodium is equivalent to 2.5g of salt.
Do some 10-minute workouts
Regular exercise can help lower your risk of heart disease. You’re recommended to get 30 minutes a day, but this doesn’t have to be in one go – instead try to fit in three 10-minute bursts.
Don’t be passive
Smokers are nearly twice as likely to have a heart attack than those who’ve never smoked. Even if you’re a non-smoker, you’re at risk if you’re regularly breathing in someone else’s smoke. So if you live with a smoker, ask them to light up outside.
Know your limits
Drinking more alcohol than the recommended limits – not more than three to four units of alcohol a day for men, or two to three for women – can have a harmful effect on your heart. One unit is roughly a small glass of wine (125ml), half a pint of beer or a single measure of spirits. But be aware that drinks with a high percentage of alcohol (such as strong lager or full-bodied red wine) could equate to much more. So do your research before you pour.
Keep stress in check
Stress can be bad news for your ticker, if you’re one of the many who cope by turning to alcohol, cigarettes or junk food. So opt for healthy stress-busters instead, such as a relaxing bath, a walk or even a yoga session.
Find out more
Visit benenden health's healthy heart section for further information on heart health, healthy eating and preventing heart disease.