Maintaining a healthy heart is closely tied to our lifestyle choices, particularly our dietary habits and level of physical activity. Adopting healthy habits at any stage in life can make a significant impact. In this blog, we explore the crucial aspects of heart care – nutrition and movement.

Exercise for a Healthy Heart

Consistent physical activity is vital for heart health. HEART UK recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, including activities like brisk walking, cycling, or swimming. Incorporating strength training further enhances heart health.

One significant challenge for me was finding the time to exercise regularly. Balancing a busy schedule with work, family, and other commitments made it difficult to prioritise physical activity. To overcome this, I decided to integrate exercise into my daily routine in smaller, more manageable chunks. Instead of aiming for an hour-long workout, I started with 15–20-minute sessions, whether it was a brisk walk during lunch or quick home workouts. This made it more achievable and less overwhelming.

The Power of Nutrition

A balanced and mindful diet is key to nurturing heart health. Consider these dietary tips:

  • Choose Heart-Healthy Cooking Methods and Oils: Opt for grilling, steaming, or baking, and use heart-healthy oils like olive oil, vegetable oil, or seed oils.
  • Revamp Your Snack Choices: Opt for nutrient-rich snacks like nuts or boost your fruit and vegetable intake. Simple swaps can reduce saturated fat while increasing essential nutrients.
  • Embrace Plant-Based Proteins: Replace processed or high-fat meats with plant-based proteins like beans, peas, or pulses. These proteins add fibre to your meals, promoting a sense of fullness.
  • Incorporate Oily Fish: Consume oily fish like salmon or mackerel at least once a week to benefit from Omega-3 fatty acids, studies have shown they help reduce inflammation and support heart health.
  • Mind Your Salt Intake: Be mindful of your salt intake, as excessive consumption can raise blood pressure and adversely affect heart health. Check food labels for hidden salt content.

Contrary to common belief, dietary fats play a crucial role in a balanced diet.

Healthy fats offer various benefits, including improved cognitive function, reduced inflammation, and support for heart health. They also play a role in insulation, energy provision, hormone production, prolonged satiety, and better absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

Tips for Incorporating Healthy Fats

  • Replace Unhealthy Fats in Cooking: Swap saturated fats with healthier alternatives like vegetable, olive, rapeseed, or avocado oil.
  • Include Nuts and Seeds: Add a handful (30g) of nuts or seeds to meals or snacks for a nutritious boost.
  • Integrate Oily Fish: Aim for one serving of oily fish per week or explore plant-based sources of Omega-3, such as walnuts, chia seeds, or flaxseeds.
  • Choose Lean Proteins: Opt for lean poultry or plant-based proteins to meet protein requirements without excess saturated fat.
  • Mindful Salad Dressings: Be cautious with commercial salad dressings and consider making your own with heart-healthy oils.

By making informed choices in both nutrition and physical activity, we can actively contribute to the well-being of our hearts.

Monthly Challenge:

Try to add a serving of oily fish to your diet at least once a week, or switch up your cooking methods by grilling, steaming, or baking your food instead of frying.

Further reading recommendations:

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