World Heart Day is on September 29 and this is the perfect time to start improving your eating habits and increasing your fitness activities.
Leading a heart-healthy lifestyle is essential, especially cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death from non-communicable diseases in Qatar.
The good news is most cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by adopting simple lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, a healthier diet and cutting out toxic substances.
Fitness First shares a few tips to help keep your heart healthy.
Eat larger portions of low-calorie, nutrient rich foods such as fruits and vegetables. Use small plates or bowls to help regulate your portions and always avoid processed or sugary foods, as these foods can result in high cholesterol. Click here for healthy meals that can be delivered to your doorstep.
Minimise saturated fats
By reducing your intake of saturated fats, you can reduce your (LDL) cholesterol levels and cut your risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fats typically come from animal fats such as red meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products.
Minimise simple carbohydrates
Stay away from simple carbs like cookies, sugary cereals, candy and soft drinks, as these types of foods increase the risk of inflammation and raise blood sugar levels. Instead, replace with fibre-rich foods to help stabilise blood sugar levels.
Reduce sodium intake
Through reducing sodium intake in your meals, you can help prevent the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases. Try making home-made meals such as soups and stews, as this can significantly decrease your salt intake.
Consume heart friendly foods
Here is a list of foods which can be consumed to maximise your heart health:
• Leafy green vegetables, high in dietary nitrates, reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness.
• Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (healthy fats) such as fish, plant oils, avocados, nuts and seeds help lower (LDL) cholesterol and systolic blood pressure.
• Seeds such as chia seeds and flax seeds are rife with fibre and omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce inflammation and increase rates of good (HDL) cholesterol.
Regular exercise is a key factor towards preventing heart disease as it helps lower blood pressure, increases healthier cholesterol levels and ensures better blood sugar regulation. Try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day to help encourage the heart’s arteries to dilate seamlessly. You can exercise at home, too, and if you choose to exercise outdoors, here’s how you can do it safely.
Here is a list of key supplements to help heart health:
• Omega 3: Omega 3 plays a very important role in protecting your heart from the bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides. It can also help to support an irregular heartbeat and slow the build up of fat plaque in the arteries.
• Vitamin D: Not only does Vitamin D help maintain bone density and boost brain function but it also decreases blood pressure, reduces inflammation and improves muscle function.
• Magnesium: Essential for normal heart rhythm, magnesium also helps maintain electrolytes such as potassium and calcium which our body needs to transport nerve messages and help with the contractions of the heart