Now that the summer holidays are over, we can finally stop indulging in unhealthy treats and using the time off as an excuse to slack from taking full control of our health! So, time to get back on track with some handy tips on what you can change to improve your health heart and overall wellbeing. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the biggest killers in the UK, and with obesity continuing to be a huge issue in the UK, it is important to learn and understand what you can to support your cardiovascular health and help to lower your chances of developing CVD. The heart beats on average 2.5 billion times in a lifetime so it is important to keep yours strong and healthy!
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight can put additional stress on your cardiovascular system and increase your blood pressure. If you struggle with your weight or find it difficult to lose weight, then it may be worth speaking to our client managers or your local doctor to get some advice on where to start with your weight loss journey. Your doctor can also rule out if there are any underlying health issues which are making weight loss more challenging for you. If you would like to lose weight, why not consider trying our weight loss programme and take the hard work out of weight loss?
Research has found that eating 30g of fibre per day can help to lower your risk of CVD. Sources of fibre in your diet include fresh fruit and vegetables (keep the skin on the vegetables where possible) and wholegrains. It is believed that on average, adults in the UK consume less than 18g of fibre per day! Try adding some extra portions of vegetables to your evening meal and swap any sugary snacks for a portion of fruit to easily boost your fibre intake.
Increase your vegetables consumption
The best vegetables to consume which help contribute to optimal heart health include beetroot, celery and green leafy vegetables. The best green leafy vegetables to consume include spinach, swiss chard, lettuce, cabbage and spring greens. Inorganic nitrates present in these vegetables have been shown to have a lowering effect on blood pressure. Beetroot juice is recognised as improving exercise performance and lowering blood pressure by causing vasodilation of large arteries which allows for greater blood flow (caused by the inorganic nitrates present).
Tomatoes also contain a phytochemical called lycopene which has found to significantly reduce risk of CVD, stroke and mortality. More lycopene is released when the tomatoes are cooked so it is a good idea to eat cooked tomatoes.
Fruit and vegetables rich in vitamin C also contribute to good heart health. Fruit and vegetables rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits, peppers tomatoes, strawberries, spinach and broccoli.
Eat more almonds!
Almonds are rich in oleic acid which helps to lower LDL cholesterol and prevent atherosclerosis (which is hardening of the arterial wall due to a build-up of plaque). The Portfolio Diet was designed in the UK to help improve individuals’ cholesterol levels. This diet recommends consuming around 23g of almonds per day.
Increase your exercise levels
Exercise strengthens and improves your heart health and combined with a healthy diet can help you to control your weight. NHS guidelines are to partake in 150 minutes of exercise per week (and this can be broken down into five 30-minute sessions). If you find exercise daunting or you’re not sure where to start, it may be worth considering purchasing some personal training sessions so that you can get started with your own personalised programme and find a type of exercise that you really enjoy!
Don’t smoke and cut down on alcohol
Smoking increases your risk of having a heart attack, however once you quit, your risk falls by 50% within one year.
Alcohol can also cause inflammation in the body and is full of empty calories. Binge drinking can also lead to overeating which all contributes to weight gain. Recommended guidelines are to not consume over 14 units of alcohol per week and to space these drinks out of several non-consecutive days.
To learn more about keeping your heart healthy and improving your overall health, speak to one of our Client Managers today who can recommend a suitable programme for your health goals.