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Food Optimising and Heart Disease… Find Out How Food Optimising Can Help Your Heart Health

Food Optimising and Heart Disease… Find Out How Food Optimising Can Help Your Heart Health

Approximately 10,000 people die in Ireland from Cardiovascular Disease each year, accounting for 36% of deaths per annum. That’s despite the fact that 80% of all heart disease is deemed preventable through some lifestyle changes and modifying risk factors. So while it’s not the most cheerful of topics, knowing how to keep your heart healthy is vitally important. Unfortunately, excess weight is a major factor that puts the heart at risk.

Our arteries naturally start to harden and clog as we get older – a process known as atherosclerosis – and this can be hastened by a number of factors, including an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and smoking.

Heart disease is also linked with high blood pressure, raised cholesterol levels and type 2 diabetes – conditions that are related to being overweight.

A lot of people won’t realise there’s a problem until they end up in hospital with angina (chest pain) or a heart attack – so it’s important we are all more heart-health aware.

Atherosclerosis reduces the amount of oxygen-rich blood reaching your heart and can lead to chest pain (angina) or even a heart attack. But there are lifestyle changes you can make that help to reduce your risk. Here’s how to help keep your heart in perfect shape:

Become a healthy weight
The risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) is doubled in someone who is overweight and nearly quadrupled in someone who is obese. Getting down to a healthy weight can reduce your risk of a heart attack, and losing just 10% of your body weight starts to bring amazing health benefits and can significantly reduce blood pressure, blood cholesterol and risk of heart disease.

Eat for a healthier heart
An unhealthy diet, with too much fat and not enough starchy foods or fruit and vegetables, can contribute to an increased risk of CHD.
The average adult needs to reduce their fat intake but this doesn’t mean cutting out all fats – some are actually beneficial to your heart and cholesterol level, for example, those found in oily fish.
Ways to reduce your fat intake

It’s all in the preparation
Preparing food in the low-fat ways that Food Optimising recommends and trimming fat off meat will mean you’re naturally limiting your fat intake.

Learn to love oily fish
Aim to eat two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily. The omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish, such as pilchards, sardines, salmon, kippers and mackerel have been shown to thin the blood, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of a fatal heart attack.

Fruit and veg are your friends
Fruit and vegetables contain important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that reduce the risk of heart disease because fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables are Free Food when Food Optimising, it’s easy to eat the recommended five portions a day and more.

Fibre and fats
Fibre slows the absorption of fats and eating foods rich in soluble fibre, such as oats and pulses, has been shown to lower harmful blood cholesterol levels. Other sources of fibre include wholemeal bread, crispbreads, whole grains (all Healthy Extra ‘b’ choices) and fruit and vegetables. Look for foods marked with an F symbol in your Food Optimising book.

See Also

Go nuts
Limited unsaturated fats, especially in place of saturated fats, can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Nuts and seeds are a Healthy Extra ‘b’ choice; you could use olive oil sprays for cooking (five sprays are ½ Syn) or add a quarter of an avocado to your salad (3½ Syns).

Drink responsibly
If you regularly drink alcohol in excess you’re at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disorders including increased blood pressure and stroke. The current guidelines recommend men and women drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, spread over three days or more.

Stub it out
Smokers are five times more likely to have a heart attack in their 30s and 40s than non-smokers – and twice as likely to have one overall. Stop smoking and your risk of developing CHD will be half that of a smoker’s in one year.

Move more
Physical inactivity contributes to the risk of developing CHD in one in five people. People who exercise for at least 30 minutes five times a week have a 35% lower risk of developing heart disease than those who are physically inactive.
Activities such as regular walking, gardening and dancing are just as effective as swimming or cycling for heart health. Regular physical activity also helps reduce the risk of high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

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