Healthy Living

Healthy Living and preventing heart disease

Healthy eating

A healthy diet contains plenty of fruit and vegetables and starchy foods such as wholegrain bread, pasta and rice; and is low in fat (especially saturated fat), salt and sugar.  There is good evidence that eating a diet that is rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables can help to lower the risk of coronary artery disease. Aim to eat at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables each day. They can be fresh, frozen, dried or tinned.

To help reduce your cholesterol level you should cut down on the total amount of fat you eat and replace saturated fats with mono-unsaturates and polyunsaturates and cut down on foods containing trans fats.

Reducing the amount of salt you eat will help keep your blood pressure down and may reduce your risk of coronary artery disease.

When you look at a food label, you should look at:

  • the total amount of fat in foods
  • how much of the total fat is saturated fat
  • and how much salt it contains.

The daily guideline amounts for the most important nutrients listed on food labels are:

Men                                        Women

Fat (total)                   95g                                         70g

of which saturates    30g                                          20g

Salt                               7g                                             5g

Sugar                           70g                                          50g

Fibre                            20g                                          16g

In general, men need about 2,500 kcals (calories) each day and women need about 2,000 kcals. However, what you need will be different from someone else. For example, someone who is very active will need more calories than someone who is not. Someone who is trying to lose weight probably needs only 1,500k calories or 1,800k calories a day. This is the same for the other nutrients listed in the table.

Be more physically active

Physical inactivity is not only a major risk factor for coronary artery disease; it is also a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. If you already have diabetes, physical activity may help to reduce the amount of tablets or insulin that you need to take.

The aim is to gradually increase your physical activity until you are doing 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity on at least five days a week. Moderate intensity means activity that makes you feel warm and breathe slightly more heavily than usual. The type of activity that helps both your heart and your diabetes is moderate, rhythmic exercise such as brisk walking, cycling or swimming. Walking is one of the best forms of activity. It’s easy to do, you don’t need to wear any special clothes, and it’s easy to fit into your everyday life. There are many different ways to be more physically active and it’s important to find activities, which are safe and right for you.

  • When you are doing any physical activity or sport, begin slowly for the first few minutes and build up gradually. At the end, spend a couple of minutes slowing down gradually.
  • Stop if you get any pain or feel dizzy, sick or unwell, or very tired.
  • Build up your activity level gradually.

Physical and Emotional stress 

Physical and emotional stresses are important contributing factor for coronary artery disease. This is one of the reasons why young people get heart attacks. Work related stress could affect the heart in many ways. Recurrent elevation of blood pressure with stress causes damage to the lining of the blood vessel of the heart. Stress leads to binge eating and smoking, which also contributes to the risk of having coronary artery disease.

Adequate rest including sleep is essential to avoid stress. Other activities like prayers, meditation and yoga can soothen your mind and avoid unnecessary stress which could lead to heart damage.


If you are a smoker, quitting smoking is the first step to avoid heart disease.

Practical tips to help you stop smoking

  • Make a date to give up, and stick to it! Throw away all your tobacco, lighters and ashtrays.
  • Draw up a plan of action. Think about what could help you stop smoking – such as using a nicotine-replacement product– and have it ready before the date you plan to quit.
  • Keep busy, to help take your mind off cigarettes. Try to change your routine, and avoid the shop where you usually buy cigarettes.
  • Get support. Let your family and friends know you are quitting. Some people find that talking to friends and relatives who have stopped can be helpful.
  • Treat yourself. If you can, use the money you are saving by not smoking to buy yourself something special.HEALTHY LIVING

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