Losing Weight for a Healthy Heart
Losing weight is excellent news for your heart health. Research has shown, over many studies, that carrying excess weight can damage your heart.
The good news is you can reduce your risk, and the fewer years you spend overweight, the lower your risk of 'silent' heart damage becomes.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the single most common cause of death in the UK†.
CHD is caused by atherosclerosis - the furring up and narrowing of the small arteries that supply blood to the heart. When the flow of blood to the heart is restricted this causes pain - "angina". If a blood clot forms within the narrowed arteries it can block the flow of blood to the heart and cause a heart attack.
Obesity and Heart Disease
The risk of CHD is increased by an unhealthy diet, high cholesterol levels (mainly caused by too much fat in the diet) and obesity (particularly where excess weight is stored around the waist).
Being overweight can also contribute to high blood pressure (hypertension) which increases your risk of CHD.
A Healthy Weight is Good for Your Heart
Losing weight / maintaining a healthy weight will help protect you from heart disease.
Research has also shown that many overweight people with angina, raised blood cholesterol and high blood pressure found their conditions improved even after losing just some of their excess weight.
Benefits of Healthy Balanced Diet
It is estimated that up to 30% of deaths from CHD are due to unhealthy diets†. Eating a healthy balanced diet will help look after your heart. Aim to:
- Increase your fruit and vegetable intake.
- Reduce your fat intake.
- Increase your intake of wholegrain foods, such as breads, cereals, rice.
- Reduce your salt intake.
- Increase your intake of oily fish.
Following the Weight Loss Resources' recommended nutrition profile - 55% carbs; 15% protein; 30% fat - will ensure your body gets the right amount of vitamins and minerals and energy levels to keep everything in working order.
The Good Guys
Fruit and Vegetables
Fruit and vegetables help to prevent the development of atherosclerosis. They are also low in calories and a good source of antioxidants. Aim to eat the recommended 5 or more portions a day.
Studies have shown that wholegrain foods in the diet can help reduce the risk of heart diseases. Choose wholegrain breakfast cereals, wholemeal bread and wholegrain varieties of pasta and rice.
Oily fish supplies a good supply of the heart healthy Omega 3 fats. Aim to eat oily fish, such as salmon or mackerel, at least once a week.
The Bad Guys
You total intake of fat should be no more than 30% with no more than 10% from saturated fats. Check labels and choose items with the lowest amount of saturated fat grams. Try to limit your intake of high fat foods such as butter, creamy sauces, fried/deep fried/battered foods, pastries, cakes, biscuits and red meat.
There are no calories in salt but this doesn't mean you should use it with abandon. Too much salt in your diet is linked with high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes. Daily intake should be no more than 6g. Flavour foods with herbs, spices and pepper. Don't add salt at the table without first tasting your food. Watch out for hidden salt in pre-cooked/pre-packed meals - avoid monosodium glutamate where possible.
Physical Activity Good for Heart
For a healthy heart you need to exercise regularly. Try to be active as much as possible. When exercising for maximum health benefits you need to exercise until you are slightly out of breath but still able to talk and build up a sweat!
Access Weight Loss Resources' food database and interactive tools free for 24 hours
The British Heart Foundation offers advice and booklets on healthy eating