10 tips for a healthier heart

Heart disease is one of Australia’s biggest killers, but it isn’t hard to make some lifestyle changes and reduce your risk. It only takes some small changes to make a major difference to your heart health. Here are the top 10 tips for a healthier heart.

1. Stop smoking!
Yes, we are yelling. This is the No.1 way to reduce your risk of heart disease and the effects are almost immediate. Just one year after your quit smoking your increased risk of dying from heart disease will be half that of a continuing smoker. Smoking affects the vessels that supply blood to your heart and other parts of your body. It reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood and damages blood vessel walls. We know quitting isn’t easy, but the benefits are enormous. If you need help you can call the Quitline on 13 7848 or visit the website.

2. Make whoopee!
Ella Fitzgerald knew it and now scientists have proved it as well – sex can be good for your heart. Recent research shows that frequent sexual activity can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease and conversely, a lower frequency of sexual activity is linked to higher rates of cardiovascular disease.

3. Improve your diet
Include more wholegrain cereals, legumes, fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts in your diet. Almonds, walnuts, pecans, and other tree nuts deliver a powerful punch of heart-healthy fats, protein and fibre. You can also replace unhealthy fats with healthy fats. Replacing saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease.

4. Exercise regularly
Walking briskly for just 30 minutes a day can reduce your risk of heart attack by a third. You can build up activity in shorter bouts, such as three 10-minute walks. Any physical activity is better than none. Start with a little exercise, and build up. Regular physical activity makes you less likely to have a heart attack or develop heart disease. It also helps control other heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and being overweight.

5. Maintain your friendships

People with supportive friendship networks are at less risk of heart disease, while those that are socially isolated or lacking in good support networks are at a much greater risk. Having a good social network with family and friends can help enormously. Depression is also a major risk factor of heart disease. If you feel depressed for more than two weeks, you should consult your doctor. For more information on depression, visit beyondblue.org.au.

6. Eat more fish
Eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can also help ward off heart disease. Many fish, such as salmon, tuna and sardines, are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Try to eat fish at least twice a week and you will boost the good cholesterol in your body.

7. Switch chocolate
If you are a chocolate fan, there are many health benefits from choosing dark chocolate over milk chocolate, chief among them is lowering your blood pressure. Of course, you should still only eat chocolate in moderation if you want to gain the benefits.

8. Limit your alcohol
There have been studies that show red wine can raise your levels of good cholesterol and also prevent artery damage and blood clot formation, but the key is moderation. The recommended daily alcohol intake is two standard drinks for men and one standard drink for women.

9. Eat less salt
Reducing your salt intake can help control your blood pressure. Try not to add salt when eating or preparing your meals and try and avoid foods with a high sodium content. To reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease, the Heart Foundation recommends adults eat less than 6g of salt (2400 mg of sodium) a day. That’s about a teaspoon a day.

10. Try a brew
Drinking tea is associated with a lower incidence of heart attacks. Drinking one to three cups of black or green tea every day can help lower your risk of heart problems.

Do you have any tips for a healthier heart? Wy not share them with our members?

Written by Ben

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