There are many heart-healthy benefits we can reap by making small changes to our diet and lifestyle alongside regular exercise.
Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her five easy dietary and lifestyle ‘wins’ to help get you started.
UP YOUR FIBRE INTAKE
Upping your fibre intake is one of of the main weapons in fighting high cholesterol levels – a major factor in heart disease. The more soluble fibre you include in the diet in the form of lentils, beans, oats, fruits and vegetables, the lower cholesterol levels tend to be. Apples which contain pectin, another soluble fibre, are especially good for helping to remove cholesterol from the body. Cholesterol is effectively eliminated via the stool so if your bowels are running smoothly and regularly, this is really going to help.
INCREASE ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS
Essential fats (omega 6s and particularly omega 3s) are great for encouraging healthy blood flow around the body helping to regulate blood pressure, maintain healthy arteries, normal heart rhythm and cholesterol levels. Increasing intake of oily fish such as salmon (wild salmon is generally less contaminated), mackerel, and sardines has huge benefits for the heart. Alternatively, take a fish oil supplement. Flaxseeds, a great vegetarian option, are also an excellent source of omega 3s – sprinkle them on to your breakfast cereal or yoghurt.
COOK WITH GARLIC
Among its many amazing health benefits, garlic helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Add it to stir fries, stews, soups, vegetarian chilli dishes, roasted vegetables. The list of possibilities is endless!
AVOID TRANS FATS
Steer clear of margarines, biscuits and cakes. The reason? They contain trans fats – fats that have been chemically altered by heating. They appear to have a negative effect on heart health, by blocking the positive effects of those amazing omega 3s.
Stress can have a negative effect on blood pressure. Even setting aside 10 to 15 minutes every day to sit quietly on your own, trying to clear your busy brain, mixed with some deep breathing, can really help. It’s also worth taking the herb passion flower, which is wonderfully calming and relaxing and can be used long-term.
So, take action today – your heart will love you for it!