I might have mentioned before that I love porridge. I urge everyone to try it again. I’m not talking about the cartons that you whack in the microwave or cook in a cardboard pot. I talking about large, steel milled oats. It takes time to figure out what works for you in terms of cooking. But it’s an investment. The ratio of water to oats, the pot you use, how much you stir it, right down to whether you add salt or not. Yep, salt, my grandmother swore by it. Oats are a perfect way to start your morning. They are rich in fibre and can help to control cholesterol as well as keep the arteries clear. Why not add some blueberries to your oatmeal too, as they are packed with anti-oxidants, which can help to reduce your risk of heart disease.
What did we do before avocados came to the UK. I must admit I never tried one until I was well into my thirties. But we are all hooked on avocados and you’ll be happy to know that they are packed with heart-friendly nutrients. They contain monounsaturated fat, which balances the levels of cholesterol in the body. My friend, Shona Wilkinson, a nutritionist at superfooduk.com explains, “Avocados contain potassium and Vitamin E, which support a healthy heart function and protects our cells against stress.” I make avocado toast. It’s easy. Buy the Tesco 2 avocados in a pack. They are the only avocados that are consistently the correct ripeness. Buy a lime and a bag of coriander leaves. Peel the avocado, remove the stone and place the flesh in a bowl. Squeeze the lime over the avocado flesh, mash these together with a garlic clove, salt and pepper and away you go. Spread it on toast. Easy.
Lentils, chickpeas, and black kidney beans are all rich in fibre and packed with omega-3 fatty acids as well as calcium. Eating legumes may help improve your blood cholesterol, which a leading cause of heart disease. I’ve said this before, sometimes it’s easier to buy ready cooked of frozen. The convenience far surpasses the difference in health benefits or flavour.
4. CUT OUT SUGAR
We all know hard it is to keep our hands off the cookie jar. But, did you know sugary foods contain saturated fats that can raise our cholesterol? If these foods are not eaten in moderation, then we are more susceptible to suffering from heart disease. Have you seen the new Slissie gadget? It’s a lipstick-sized device, which delivers natural appetite-suppressing flavours that instantly support anyone that wants to resist the sugary snack temptation. The smell and taste of Slissie is designed to trick the brain into the thinking that our cravings have been satisfied.
Psychologist Corrine Sweet explains,
“With a little help from your Slissie friend, you will soon be reaping the rewards for the application of willpower.”
I get the impression they are aimed at the ladies but I sometimes suffer from terrible sugar cravings. I try to justify eating a Cadbury’s picnic as it contains peanuts and grapes. I’m just fooling myself.
5. GET ENOUGH SLEEP
The next time you are thinking of staying up later than you should, remember that a good full night’s sleep is good for your heart. Adults who get their hours in at a younger age, tend to have healthier arteries when they become older. Martina Della Vedova, nutritionist at Natures Plus, says:
“Sleep is a significant part of living a healthy lifestyle, and many of us simply do not get enough. Stress, sleep and anxiety are all related. If we don’t get enough sleep we can find it harder to adapt to challenging situations, and when we can’t cope as efficiently with stress it can be harder to have a good night’s rest. Magnesium is known as “nature’s tranquiliser” and is needed to relax our muscles and nerves, which helps us to fall into a peaceful sleep.”
To ensure you’re getting enough magnesium try to include plenty of magnesium-rich foods in your diet, such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds, fish and leafy green vegetables. I’d also recommend taking the new KalmAssure Magnesium Powder, by Natures Plus (£24.50, naturesplus.com). This is a naturally chelated magnesium which is very easy to absorb and easily delivered to the tissues.”
6. GET ACTIVE
I perhaps overdo this but I love it. Doing moderate exercise at least once a week can reduce the risk of developing heart disease. I exercise every second day, barring injury. Exercise boosts my mood and while busting my stress, I get to clear my mind and, for some reason, I get really creative and blog posts just pop out of my head. Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading nutritionist and author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar, explains,
“Heart rate increases with exercise and that causes blood to move faster through the blood vessels improving circulation.”
Ah, that explains it.
7. DO MORE OF WHAT YOU LOVE
I love playing the guitar, reading and drawing. I don’t make enough time for these activities and they are generally solo pursuits. Time with friends and family life, family occasions are great for our wellbeing. We are, after all, social creatures. Being in the company of people we love is beneficial for our emotional health and your hearts!