Heart disease is an umbrella term for conditions that affect your heart or circulation. Considered one of the leading causes of death, cardiovascular diseases claim more than 160,000 lives each year in the UK alone. Therefore it’s imperative to reduce your risk of developing this major killer. Fortunately, a cardiologist has shared the “best” diet for preventing the culprit.
You might be tired of hearing how effective diet can be at staving off various health problems but a healthy lifestyle is indeed one of the simplest ways of cutting your risk of a variety of problems, including heart disease.
When it comes to heart healthy food protocol, there are a few simple rules to follow.
Dr Oliver Guttmann, Consultant Cardiologist at The Wellington Hospital, part of HCA Healthcare UK, said: “The best diet for preventing heart disease is one that is full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, poultry, and vegetable oils.”
While what you eat plays a major role in reducing your risk, what you skip is also crucial.
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Dr Guttmann continued: “It’s important to also monitor alcohol intake, being mindful with your drinking.
“Men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis. For example, a pint of strong lager contains three units of alcohol.
“You should also look to reduce your consumption of red and processed meats, refined carbohydrates, foods and beverages with added sugar, sodium, and foods with trans fats.”
What’s more, you don’t have to take just the doctor’s word for it, as volumes of research also back the food groups the doctor suggested.
For example, a large proportion of research focuses on so-called Mediterranean diet, which includes all the crucial food groups the doctor described.
The doctor said: “It’s important to incorporate these foods into your diet as soon as possible as heart disease [risk] increases with age, particularly for adults aged 65 and older.
“Ageing can cause changes in the heart and blood vessels therefore increasing a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease.”
What’s more, following this type of diet can also help reduce your cholesterol levels – a precursor of heart disease.
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Another ingredient you should keep to a minimum is salt, as the common seasoning can increase your blood pressure risk.
Dr Guttmann said: “When you have too much sodium, water is pulled back into your blood stream, this creates high blood pressure.
“The rise in blood pressure can put you at a great risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases such as heart attacks.”
This means that the food groups doctor described can also benefit those suffering from pre-existing cardiovascular conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
The doctor said: “Consistently eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and fish, is the best way to see the benefits on your heart health and helps to prevent heart disease long term.
“You should aim to eat less than six grams of salt a day (2.4g sodium) – that’s around one teaspoonful.
“And you should be looking to eat around a portion of fruits and vegetables each day.”
The cardiologist explained that a portion is about a handful, for example:
- Four broccoli florets
- One pear
- Three heaped tablespoons of carrots
- Seven to eight strawberries.