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Learn more about heart-healthy foods to prevent and beat heart disease.
Our new Eat to Beat series will focus on a number of different preventable diseases and look a little deeper into how a healthy diet can improve or even prevent the condition from developing in the first place. For the first instalment of Eat to Beat, we will be focusing on heart disease.
According to the British Heart Foundation heart and circulatory diseases cause more than a quarter of all deaths in the UK; that's over 150,000 deaths each year - an average of 420 people each day. Heart disease itself is often referred to as the 'silent killer' and it is the single most common cause of death before 65 in the UK.
There are several risk factors for developing heart disease. Having a family history of early heart disease can increase an individual's risk of developing heart disease. Lifestyle factors that increase the risk of heart disease include having high cholesterol, being overweight or obese, having diabetes, smoking, having an unhealthy diet and being physically inactive.
There are plenty of ways to optimise your diet in order to keep your heart healthy. Eating the following things can help reduce your risk of developing heart disease:
1. Choose healthy fats: trans fats found in fried and processed foods are the worst for heart health as they raise levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, and suppress ‘good’ HDL cholesterol levels. Opt instead for foods rich in monounsaturated fats such as avocados, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds as these can improve your blood cholesterol levels, decreasing your risk of heart disease.
2. Leafy green vegetables: like spinach, kale and collard greens contain a wealth of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They’re also high in dietary nitrates, which have been shown to reduce blood pressure and improve the function of cells lining the blood vessels.
3. Whole grains: are much higher in fibre compared to refined grains which may help reduce levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol circulating in the blood and decrease your risk of heart disease.
4. Reduce your salt intake: eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure which increases your risk of developing heart disease.
We understand that no one is perfect and it can be difficult to know if your lifestyle choices are putting you at risk of developing heart disease, especially as heart disease in its early stages has no obvious symptoms. Our Heart Disease Risk Check is the perfect way to check your risk, allowing you to make healthier lifestyle choices and monitor your progress to see how your changes are improving your health. Our advanced health screens, the Well Woman and Well Man UltraVit tests both include a heart disease risk check as well as a number of other tests, including a full blood count, liver and kidney function and a diabetes check.