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8 Quick and easy ways to improve your heart health

8 Quick and easy ways to improve your heart health

Our health expert weighs in on how to improve your heart health quickly, from adding more leafy greens to your diet to taking up mindfulness or cycling

1. Eat nuts

Just a handful of nuts a day can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

In fact, research suggests that they help your heart in a number of ways, including lowering “bad” LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and triglycerides and the risk of blood clots.

So, ditch the crisps and biccies and reach for the unsalted nuts instead. But beware, they’re high in calories!

2. Keep a cat

Person bends down to stroke happy tortoiseshell coloured catPetting your cat could increase serotonin and decrease cortisol, which helps to lower stress

A study of more than 4,000 people based on data from the American National Health and Nutrition Examination Study found that those who’d never owned a cat were 40 per cent more likely to die of a heart attack and 30 per cent more likely to die from any cardiovascular event, such as stroke or heart failure.

"Those who’d never owned a cat were 40 per cent more likely to die of a heart attack"

It’s probable that stroking Tiddles lowers levels of anxiety and stress, which can have a protective effect against heart disease.

3. Go green

Fill your diet with antioxidants, fibre and good fats­—found aplenty in green foods. Dark leafy greens and cruciferous veg (think broccoli, Brussels and cauliflower) and green tea contain antioxidants, which protect against cell damage.

Avocado and extra virgin olive oils are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Meanwhile, peas are not only high in fibre but research has also found that people who eat peas and other legumes four times a week cut their risk of heart disease by 22 per cent.

4. Meditate

Woman sits on bed wearing headphones meditating with phone beside herMeditating regularly can lower your anxiety levels and risk of having a heart attack

Opt for a mindfulness app that you can practise whenever you have a spare moment.

One study found that people who meditated regularly to reduce stress were 48 per cent less likely to have a heart attack, stroke or to die from all causes.

5. Answer the call of nature

A full bladder makes your heart beat faster and puts extra strain on the coronary arteries, which makes them contract, research from Taiwan University found.

"A full bladder makes your heart beat faster and puts extra strain on the coronary arteries"

This could result in a heart attack in people who are vulnerable.

6. Move differently

We all know that exercise is good for heart health, but you don’t have to go to the gym. Making regular non-exercise physical activity a priority can boost cardiovascular health.

Whether it’s walking meetings, a few minutes on your balance board when you’re on the phone, squats while you clean your teeth, or cleaning the house, it all adds up.

7. Say yay to vitamin K

Vitamin K, in particular vitamin K2, is good for the arteries and has been shown to reduce deaths from coronary heart disease, yet many of us are deficient in it.

"Vitamin K has been shown to reduce deaths from coronary heart disease"

Eat more sardines, dairy, chicken, egg yolks and sauerkraut.

8. Ride your bike

A man in a smart shirt and trousers cycles through a city parkGetting around on your bike can be a great way to sneak in a heart-healthy form of cardio 

Cycling to the shops or across town to see a friend, or riding a stationary bike at home will improve fitness. It might even help if you already have ticker trouble.

A German study found that men with angina (mild chest pain) who rode a stationary bike for 20 minutes a day were less likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular problem than other men who had an angioplasty to clear their arteries.

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