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Circulation, Heart Health and Nutrition

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Understanding nutrition and heart health

Nutritionist Henrietta Norton explains how taking care of your heart through your nutrition can help you live a longer and healthier- as well as giving practical tips on how to take control.

Why is diet important to heart health?

Most of us know good nutrition is good for you and good for your heart. A poor diet though can actually lead to a number of heart related problems; it can damage heart muscles, block arteries, and result in you becoming overweight, putting pressure on vital organs. Eating well reduces the risk of this happening.

Here are some useful dos and don’ts:

Fruit and vegetables

There is good evidence that eating 5 portions of fruit and veg a day can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. One adult portion is about 80 grams and you can eat fruit in different forms. So, fresh, frozen, juiced, dried, tinned, cooked and raw; but don’t just eat five apples, make sure you get a variety.

Fats

There are a number of different fats but essentially they can be categorised into two types: Saturated fats and unsaturated fats. Having the right type of fat is important for your heart’s health. So what do you need to know? Well, eating too much saturated fat can raise your blood cholesterol and increase your chance of heart disease. You can replace them with small amounts of unsaturated fats instead, like olive, rapeseed or sunflower oils. But on the whole you should also reduce the overall amount of all fat that you eat, especially trans fats, which can often be found in fast food and snacks.

Oily fish

Research suggests that Omega 3 fats found in oily fish are beneficial to our heart and circulation. It’s recommended that you eat at least two portions of fish a week and that one of these portions is an oily fish like mackerel, trout or salmon. This little change to your diet may prevent heart attacks and can improve your chances of survival if one occurs.

Salt

Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. You can try adding herbs and spices to season your food as an alternative and watch out for ready made foods as they can often contain a high salt content.

Alcohol

Many of us like to have a drink now and again, but too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure and lead to heart disease and strokes. Alcohol is high in calories and can make you  pile on the pounds relatively quickly, which puts pressure on your organs and binge drinking can even damage your heart muscle over time. Keep within the recommended amount of units.

How can you take control?

Doctors can prescribe medication to help, but many people look to non-pharmaceutical sources. Taking supplements like a multivitamin can ensure the correct nutrients are in your diet. As well as a balanced diet, doing a decent amount of aerobic exercise each week also helps maintain a healthy heart. Need we say more? Taking care of your heart for your nutrition can help you live a longer and healthier life.

Click here for more articles on heart health

BSc, DipNT, member of British Association of Nutritional Therapists (MBANT), Registered Nutritional Therapist with the Nutritional Therapy Council, registered Foresight Preconception practitioner More from this expert.

Henrietta

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Nutrition Expert sources the latest information and advice from a range of qualified doctors, nutritionists and coaches. We always endeavour to have the most up to date information possible and publish new content weekly. However with the constant research in this field sometimes some of our older articles can become out of date. If you see anything that you believe needs to be updated please let us know via our Contact Us page