Eating a healthy, balanced diet can lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Everyone knows a diet packed with fast food, processed meats and chocolate bars isn’t a good idea.
But aside from watching what you eat, there are several things you can do to fine-tune your diet and make it more heart-healthy.
Eat more protein
Protein is essential for a healthy body, but it should be lean protein rather than high-fat meats that contain lots of saturated fat, which can raise cholesterol levels and lead to heart disease.
Choose oily fish like salmon, skinless chicken, eggs, legumes, soy products and lean mince.
Avoid processed meats such as hot dogs, sausages and bacon. It’s also best to choose lean cuts of meat rather than marbled cuts.
Eating a lot of sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, a risk factor of cardiovascular disease, warns the Mayo Clinic.
Good places to start reducing salt are at the dinner table and during cooking, but a large percentage of the salt we eat comes from processed foods such as soups and microwave meals.
Reducing condiments is also recommended, as ketchup, mayonnaise and soy sauce are all high in sodium.
Control portion sizes
How much you eat is just as important as what you eat, notes the Mayo Clinic.
Overloading your plate or regularly going back for seconds means you’ll end up eating more calories than you need.
You should also be aware of the recommended serving size for a particular food. A fist-sized jacket potato equates to one serving, according to the NHS, while a serving of nuts is one cupped handful.
Try to fill up on nutrient-rich, low calorie foods, while having smaller portion of high-calorie, high-sodium choices.
Eat more vegetables
Fruits are important too, but it’s better to have more vegetables than fruit, which can be high in natural sugars.
Both are good sources of vitamins and minerals, and may help guard against heart disease. They are also high in fibre and low in calories.
Limit your intake of coconut, fried or breaded vegetables, and fruit canned in syrup.
Allow yourself the occasional treat
A healthy diet is much easier to stick to if you allow yourself an indulgence every now and then.
After all, no one can eat healthily every single day of their lives, and the odd piece or cake or handful of crisps won’t derail all your good work.
“What’s important is you eat healthy foods most of the time,” notes the Mayo Clinic. “If overindulgence is the exception, rather than the rule, you’ll balance things out over the long term.”
Symptoms of a heart attack include pain or pressure in your chest, which could spread to other parts of the body, including both arms.
Other signs can include dizziness, sweating and shortness of breath.