Are you looking after your heart? February is acknowledged as Heart Health Month by the British Heart Foundation. With around 7.6 million people living with a heart or circulatory disease in the UK, this national awareness month shines a light on a variety of conditions and challenges us to take stock of our own health. This month we look at diet and the changes you can make to improve your heart health.
Why diet matters
A healthy, balanced diet can reduce your risk of developing a heart condition and can benefit you even if you already have one. It can also reduce the risk of other illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, reduces the risk of some cancers as well as lowering your cholesterol.
The NHS recommends we eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, with one portion being 80g. Aim for a variety of colours to ensure you’re getting the essential nutrients you need. Incorporate at least one portion of leafy greens, as these are packed with high levels of fibre, iron, magnesium and calcium. Leafy greens have been labelled as ‘powerhouse vegetables’ by the CDC based on their nutrient density scores. These greens include watercress, Chinese cabbage and chard. If you struggle to hit your 5-a-day, try adding one additional portion of fruit or veg to each meal.
Most adults need approximately 0.75g of protein per kilo of body weight per day, which equates to 50g for the average woman and 55g for the average man. Good sources of protein include lean meats such as chicken and turkey, fish and seafood and dairy products such as eggs milk and yogurt. If you lead a plant-based diet then soya foods such as tofu, beans, pulses, nuts and seeds are great sources.
Carbohydrates include foods such as potatoes, rice, pasta and cereals and these should make up a third of the food you eat. It’s important to include carbs in your diet, as they’re a good source of energy. Where possible choose wholegrain varieties, which are often lower in sugar and higher in fibre.
Fats are essential to our diet, as they contain fatty acids that the body can’t make by itself. However, any fats consumed that are not used get converted into body fat. Excess body fat increases the risk of heart disease.
There are two main groups of fats – saturated and unsaturated. Unsaturated fats are considered ‘healthy’ fats because they can stabilise heart rhythms and lower cholesterol. Unsaturated fats are predominantly found in vegetable oils, nut, seeds and fish.
Saturated fats are found in foods such as fatty cuts and processed meats, dairy sources such as cream and cheese as well as sweet foods such as cakes, biscuits, pastries and sweets. Most people in the UK eat too much saturated fat and it is recommended that we cut down on all fats and swap saturated for unsaturated where possible
There’s a popular theory that alcohol, especially red wine, can improve our heart health. However, there isn’t any evidence to support this theory. There is evidence to show heavy drinking can lead to numerous health issues including heart conditions. The NHS recommends that we do not exceed 14 units of alcohol a week. These units should not be consumed in one sitting but spaced out over at least three days.
If you’d like additional support, consider taking a supplement such as Bioglan Red Krill Oil. Bioglan Red Krill Oil contains pure, sustainably sourced Krill Oil from the pristine waters of the Antarctic Ocean, in high concentration, to give a number of health benefits which include supporting heart, brain & eye health.
When we take normal fish oil our body first has to break it down before it can be used, but because Red Krill Oil is bound to phospholipids, our body easily recognises it and absorbs it much quicker; meaning we get more health benefits faster. This is also why we guarantee no fishy aftertaste or reflux with our products.
Bioglan Red Krill is available in 3 strengths and can be brought from Holland & Barrett, Tesco, Chemist Direct & Amazon.
If you have any concerns over your current diet or alcohol consumption speak to your GP or a registered health professional.