Heart health and you: the basics
The heart makes up part of our cardiovascular system, along with blood and blood vessels. The cardiovascular system supplies each organ and cell in the body with oxygen, nutrients and hormones. The heart’s main job is to act as a pump to move blood throughout the body, 24 hours a day for the whole of our lives.1 A healthy heart is vital to life, so it’s essential that we take good care of the only one we have. Here are some basic ways you can help maintain good heart health at any stage of life.
- Take part in regular exercise
Regular exercise, especially the type that increases your heart rate (aerobic exercise) helps strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system, increases energy levels and helps to maintain healthy blood pressure. Walking, jogging, cycling and swimming are all examples of activities that are good for your heart. An inactive lifestyle is one of the main risk factors for poor heart health.2
- Eat oily fish
Oily fish contains omega‐3 fatty acids that help maintain heart health. Good choices include tuna, sardines, salmon and mackerel. It’s recommended that you eat at least 2‐3 (300g ‐ 450g) portions of oily fish per week.3 If you don’t enjoy eating fish, try taking a daily fish oil supplement such as Nature’s Own Fish Oil 2000mg or Nature’s Own Liquid Fish Oil to help maintain good heart health.
- Limit your dietary intake of salt
Table salt and sea salt (sodium chloride) consumption in high amounts should be avoided. Limiting your sodium intake is an important part of looking after your heart. Try and avoid adding salt to your food at the table wherever possible. Packaged and processed foods are high in sodium, so check the packaging of convenience foods carefully. Always look for reduced salt options as well.4
- Reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet
Dietary fat intake affects healthy heart function. Saturated fats and trans fats are considered to be ‘bad’ fats. Saturated fats increase total cholesterol levels and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Transfats have also been found to decrease the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.5 Examples of saturated fats include cheese, pizza, animal products such as sausages, bacon, hot dogs and ribs, as well as butter, lard, coconut oil and palm oil. Trans fats are found in margarine and snack foods such as biscuits and cakes. To minimize your intake of unhealthy fats, read food labels and avoid products that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. You can also sauté foods with olive oil instead of butter and use canola oil when baking.6
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Published April 2, 2014
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