Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide, with an estimated 17.3 million (source: American Heart Association) lives being claimed due to the disease, every year. However, most cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by addressing behavioural risk factors such as an unhealthy diet, obesity, physical inactivity and excessive tobacco and alcohol use.
Banin Shanine, Nutrition Manager at Fitness First, has a few tips to help keep your heart healthy:
- Portion control is the easiest way to change your diet and lead a healthier lifestyle. Excess food on your plate leads to excess calories and eventually to unhealthy weight gain (stored as fat).
- Keep your saturated and trans fats (unhealthy fats) intake to a minimum, e.g. animal fat, dairy and unhealthy snacks.
- Stay away from simple carbs which tend to contain refined sugar such as candy and soft drinks.
- Also avoid foods that are high in sodium, as sodium is known for its effect on blood pressure and it increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases.
- Here is a list of foods which can be consumed to help promote a healthy heart:
- Vegetables and leafy greens
- Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (healthy fats) such as fish, plant oils, avocados, nuts and seeds
- Complex carbs that are high in fibre such as vegetables, wholegrain rice and rolled oats – these food items will help with your digestive system and help your body to avoid sugar spikes
- Regular exercise is also important for preventing heart disease – exercise can help make your heart muscle stronger and also helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol