How To Keep Your Heart Healthy | Dr Roly Hilling-Smith

Published at November 5, 2018

Sprinkling salt on every meal or trading your evening jog for Netflix might be causing more harm to your heart than you realise.
Here’s how to keep your heart health in check.

Lose the extra kgs

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 70 per cent of men and 56 per cent of women are overweight or obese. This rate inclines with age; four in five men, and two in three women older than 45 are overweight or obese, a risk factor for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular health complications.

“It’s disappointing”, Queensland Cardiologist Dr Roland Hilling-Smith said. “We’re putting a strain on our health system based on something most of us can control.”

Get moving

“View 30 minutes of daily exercise as your ‘heart pill’,” Dr Hilling-Smith said. “Exercise daily and you’ll be potentially reducing the number of actual heart pills you’ll need down the track.” Even a brisk walk will aid weight loss and weight-maintenance, while helping to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

Eat your veggies

It’s not just kids who need to be told: only 1 in 20 adults meet Nutrition Australia’s recommendation of two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables daily for good health, heart-health included. The greater the variety, the more vitamins, minerals and cell-protective antioxidants you’ll be getting, and the filling fibre content can aid weight loss.

Skip the salt

It can be linked to high blood pressure. Processed foods account for three quarters of our salt intake, with breakfast cereals, frozen meals, soups and sauces being common culprits.

The best way to lower your salt intake? Eat unprocessed foods. Fresh and even frozen fruits and vegetables have nothing else added, nor do minimally processed grains like brown rice and oats.

Choose unprocessed meat and fish over salami and smoked salmon, and swap that sprinkle of salt with herbs and spices and a drizzle of heart-healthy olive oil.

Quit smoking

Smoking stiffens the blood vessels, which can lead to them splitting, the result being a heart attack, stroke or angina (pressure on the chest due to lack of blood flow to the heart).

That’s not to say quitting smoking is easy. Dr Hilling-Smith recommends quitting on a day that’s realistic for you, or quitting with a friend or partner to keep you accountable. “Or put the money you’d be using for cigarettes in a jar. After each cigarette-free week, put some of that money towards a small, good-for-you treat. Once you get to a year without cigarettes, put the money you’ve saved towards a holiday.”

Say bye to booze

Alcohol lowers the ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, and raises triglyceride levels – a form of fat in the blood that can increase heart disease risk. The good news: “Unless you have a cardiac condition, a glass of red wine each day can be beneficial for the heart”, Dr Hilling-Smith said. “But beyond that, it’s not.”

View original article – Credit: Queensland Country Lifestyle

Scroll to Top