Preventing heart disease
There are several ways you can help reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD), such as lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. A low-fat, high-fibre diet is recommended, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (five portions a day) and whole grains. You should limit the amount of salt you eat to no more than 6g (0.2oz) a day because too much salt will increase your blood pressure. Six grams of salt is about one teaspoonful.
There are two types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. You should avoid food containing saturated fats because these will increase your cholesterol levels.
Foods high in saturated fat include meat pies, sausages and fatty cuts of meat, butter, ghee (a type of butter often used in Indian cooking,) lard, cream, hard cheese, cakes and biscuits and foods that contain coconut or palm oil.
However, a balanced diet should include a small amount of unsaturated fat, which will help reduce your cholesterol levels.
Foods high in unsaturated fat include oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds and sunflower, rapeseed, olive and vegetable oils.
You should also try to avoid too much sugar in your diet, as this can increase your chances of developing diabetes, which is proven to dramatically increase your chances of developing CHD.
Be more physically active
Combining a healthy diet with regular exercise is the best way to maintain a healthy weight.
Regular exercise will make your heart and blood circulatory system more efficient, it will lower your cholesterol level and also keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.
Keep to a healthy weight
Your GP or practice nurse can tell you what your ideal weight is in relation to your build and height. Alternatively, find out what your BMI (body mass index) is by using a BMI calculator.
Give up smoking
If you smoke, giving up will reduce your risk of developing CHD. Smoking is a major risk factor for developing atherosclerosis (furring of the arteries). It also causes the majority of cases of coronary thrombosis in people under the age of 50.
Reduce your alcohol consumption
If you drink, stick to recommended guidelines. The recommended daily amount of alcohol for men is three to four units a day and two to three units for women. Always avoid binge drinking.
Keep your blood pressure under control
You can keep your blood pressure under control by eating a healthy diet low in saturated fat, exercising regularly, and if required, taking the appropriate medication to lower your blood pressure. Your target blood pressure should be below 140/85mmHg. If you have high blood pressure, ask your GP to check your blood pressure regularly.