Eating your way to a longer and healthier life
The average potential of heart beats for a healthy human heart over one life time is 2.6 billion. Heart health is the key factor in ensuring that this figure is achieved or surpassed this figure. Heart UK is a national charity working to help prevent premature deaths caused by high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease by raising awareness of high cholesterol, campaigning for better detection of those at risk, and supporting health care professionals. HealthGauge invited Heart UK to explain the factors relating to heart health and how it can be better maintained through diet…
Cardiovascular disease, which is essentially made up of coronary heart disease, CHD (45%), and strokes (28%), is one of the UK’s biggest killers. It also contributes significantly to ongoing ill health and work days lost, costing the UK economy £6.67 billion every year, £4.87 billion of which is attributed to non-healthcare costs.
Someone in the UK has a heart attack every six minutes
Over the last 10 years there has been significant reduction in deaths from CVD, thanks largely to reductions in smokers and to improvements in treatments of those most at risk or with existing disease. However much more needs to be done to prevent CVD and CHD, especially in the most deprived socioeconomic groups and in the South Asian and African Caribbean communities which are at greater risk.
Atherosclerosis – the name given to the gradual narrowing of the arteries caused by the deposition of fatty plaques – is a continual process leading ultimately in the case of a heart attack or stroke to the blockage of arteries that serve the heart muscle (coronary arteries) or the brain.
Atherosclerosis affects everyone, but not equally. There are key risk factors: non-modifiable – which cannot be altered, and modifiable – which can be altered.
• Family history of early heart disease or genetic risk
• Blood Cholesterol
• Physical activity
• Blood pressure
• Waist circumference
As modifiable factors far outnumber those which are non-modifiable there is a lot that people can do to reduce their own risk and at any age.
How to eat for a healthier heart
Cholesterol is the single biggest modifiable factor which, amongst other actions, can be lowered through an improved diet. The more apple shaped you are the greater your risk of heart disease. Decreasing portion sizes, using low fat spreads and oils sparingly as well as to take more physical activity are some ways that people can lose weight.
Eat a varied diet
- starchy whole grains
Limits foods rich in saturated fat
- full fat milk
- full fat cheese
- fatty meats
Include good heart healthy foods
- oily fish
- plant sterol/stanol fortified foods