Tips for maintaining a healthy heart

It is not only physical issues, but also what you eat, your weight, or how much exercise you get that affect your heart’s health. Stress and worry can also have a huge impact on the heart.

We have a number of tips to help in maintaining a healthy heart:

First and foremost, if you smoke, stop! Smoking is one of the main causes of coronary heart disease. A year after giving up, your risk of a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker.

Regular activity and exercise is good because not only is aerobic exercise good for you physically, it can also be a great mood booster and stress buster.

Another significant factor in keeping a healthy heart is being overweight. Obviously, exercise can play a part in maintaining a healthy weight, but your diet is also important. A healthy, balanced diet should be low in fat and sugar, with plenty of fruit and vegetables (at least five portions a day). Eating plenty of fibre can help lower your risk of heart disease too.

You should aim for at least 30g a day. Fibre sources include wholemeal bread, bran, oats and wholegrain cereals, and potatoes with their skins on. Saturated fats can increase the level of cholesterol in your blood, which also has an impact on your heart. Switch to leaner cuts of meat and lower fat dairy products. High salt levels in food can also cause problems. You should try to include at least two portions of oily fish in your weekly diet and also cut down on alcohol. Fish such as pilchards, sardines and salmon are a source of omega-3 fats, which may help protect against heart disease.

Finally, when shopping, it can be helpful to read the food and drink labels on packaging to see how many calories and how much fat, salt and sugar are in the product.