Heart Health: 6 Tips to Help You Live Your Heart Healthiest Life

With heart disease on the rise globally, there has never been a better time to improve your heart health.

04 Oct, 2021

Fitness

Nutrition

Tips & Tricks

Wellness

We all know the importance of the heart – it pumps blood around the body, which provides our body parts with vital oxygen and nutrients needed to survive! Without maintaining good heart health, we increase our risk of preventable heart diseases such as stroke, heart attack and coronary artery disease.

Not only will making smarter lifestyle choices protect your heart from these diseases, they can also improve your overall health and wellbeing – a win-win situation!

So, without further ado, here are our top tips you can implement today to start improving your heart health.

1. Increase your fibre intake by eating more plants

two woman purchasing fruit for heart health at a market

Fibre is an indigestible carbohydrate found in plants, which passes through your body relatively intact (unlike its protein and fat macronutrient counterparts).

A diet high in fibre has been linked to better heart health, due to its ability to manage potentially harmful blood triglyceride and cholesterol (types of fat) levels, reduce blood pressure and reduce inflammation. Fibre comes in two forms: insoluble and soluble, where amounts vary amongst different plant foods.

Thus, it’s important to ensure your diet includes a wide variety of plants. Think plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains like oats, wheat, barley and quinoa.

Try these things the next time you have a bite to eat: swap white bread for wholegrain options, swap sugary cereals for oats with fruit, have brown or black rice instead of white rice, snack on fruit with nut butter instead of processed, prepackaged snacks, and include plenty of veg at meal times.

Fascinating Fact:

The APOA5 gene influences the regulation of triglyceride levels in the blood. Depending on a person’s APOA5 gene variant, some people may have a reduced ability to regulate potentially harmful blood triglyceride levels. Studies have shown, a lack of fibre in these people’s diets could make their genetic predisposition worse! Therefore, these people should swap refined carbohydrates (e.g. white rice) for high fibre foods to maintain good heart health!

2. Get plenty of exercise

a young woman exercising for heart health on an exercise ball

Exercise has been shown to lower blood pressure, maintain a healthy weight, improve your muscles’ ability to draw oxygen from the blood, lower stress and reduce inflammation – all vital for optimising your heart’s health! To fit more exercise into your daily routine, try the following: go out for a walk on your lunch break, wake up earlier to fit in a workout, choose the stairs rather than the elevator, get off the bus early to walk an extra block.

Fascinating Fact:

Interestingly, depending on a person’s genetics, the benefits of exercise on heart health may be more prominent for some people than others. For these people, it may be even more important to stay active to ensure their heart is healthy!

3. Eat more healthy fats to improve heart health

a close up photo of a cutting board with heart healthy foods

Healthy fats, also known as unsaturated fats, come in two forms: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. It’s important to choose these healthy fats over unhealthy, saturated fats and trans-fats, as they’re linked to better heart health.

For example, they’ve been shown to do the following: lower bad cholesterol levels, increase good cholesterol levels and lower potentially harmful triglyceride levels in the blood.

So, to boost your heart health, try eating more of the following foods: for monounsaturated fats, try foods like avocado, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and nuts; and for polyunsaturated fats, try salmon, tuna, walnuts and chia seeds.

Fascinating Fact:

Polyunsaturated fats come in two forms, omega-3 & 6 fats. The FADS1 gene is involved in the processing of omega-3 & 6 fats – influencing a person’s blood fat profile!

Therefore, depending on a person’s FADS1 gene variant, some people may have a reduced ability to process omega-3 & 6 fats and are at greater risk of having high blood triglycerides and cholesterol levels, and low levels of omega-3 & 6 fats.

Studies have shown these people should increase their intake of omega-3 fats, while reducing their intake of saturated and monounsaturated fat for optimal heart health.

4. Swap salt for herbs & spices

two people eating healthy takeaway salad good for heart health

Too much salt in your diet can cause high blood pressure – not great for your heart health! As many of us use salt to enhance flavour in our cooking, try using more herbs and spices to satisfy your taste buds.

This could include using more herbs and spices in your cooking, or sprinkling them over your meals. It’s also important to mention, pre-packaged processed foods and takeaways are often laden with salt.

So, try eating more homemade and/or minimally processed snacks and meals to help you get that salt intake down!

Fascinating Fact:

People with a certain genetic variation of the GRK4 gene may have an increased risk of being sensitive to salt in their diet, thus causing them to have a genetic predisposition to high blood pressure. To promote good heart health, these people would especially benefit from a diet low in salt.

5. Cut out smoking

a woman smiling outdoors near a beach

Most of us are aware of the health risks linked to smoking (especially the lungs), but did you know it can also negatively affect the heart? For example, smoking can increase blood pressure, heart rate and plaque build up in the arteries, which can increase your risk of heart attack, heart failure, and other heart diseases.

By saying no to smoking, you can reduce your risk of a heart attack by half within one year, and within 5-15 years, you can bring your risk of coronary heart disease back to a similar level as a non-smoker. Not to mention, quitting smoking can save you a lot of cash, which you could reinvest into your health! Need we say more?

6. Utilise digital heart health tools

Nutritionist Alex Pendlebury browsing myDNA insights on her phone at home in her kitchen

For many people, making new healthy lifestyle choices can be difficult as it means changing our behaviour – a complex process of breaking old habits while simultaneously replacing them with new healthy ones.

While you can definitely do this yourself (check out our article How To Change Your Behaviour For Good), who says you can’t make things a little easier by taking advantage of the modern technological tools our world has to offer? A digital health tool you could utilise to improve your health (including heart health), is myDNA’s Personalised Wellness Membership – an app based health and wellness program that could make long term change easy and fun.

We provide you with health and wellness DNA insights and DNA-powered meal and workout plans to help you live your healthiest and happiest life. In fact, one of the DNA insights you could unlock is Heart Health! In this category, you could discover the following:

  • Your processing of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
  • Your processing of cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood
  • How your blood triglycerides are affected by your dietary intake of fibre

So, if you’re finding it hard to know where to start, or struggling to find the motivation, then we urge you to try some of the tips above or sign up to a myDNA Personalised Wellness Membership.

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