February: The Month of Hearts
It’s February: the supermarkets are laden with roses, hearts and all things love. Whilst you’re tucking into a heart shaped selection box, it might be worth a thought to consider the most important heart of all: your own.
Lowering your cholesterol as you’re getting older is essential for good heart health. Here are some steps you can take:
Cutting back on Saturated Fats
According to the NHS, foods high in saturated fats include:
– meat pies
– sausages and fatty cuts of meat- butter, ghee and lard- cream
– hard cheeses
– cakes and biscuits
– foods containing coconut or palm oil
Of course, balance in our diet is essential for both our mental and physical health. Restriction is not productive, but over indulging in such foods as those above can be incredibly antagonistic to our general wellbeing. As an example, you can swap butter, ghee, and lard for vegetable oil based spreads and spreads. You can add lots more flavour into your cooking with oils such as olive oil and walnut oil, and although these are high in fat, they are high in unsaturated fats which are far better for our cholesterol. In the same way, oily fish such as salmon, nuts, and seeds are wonderful sources of good fats. Try snacking on nuts, like with our wonderful Roasted Fruit and Nuts recipe, or maybe make your own healthy granola with our wide range of nuts and seeds we have available to buy.It’s not only what we choose to eat that can raise our cholesterol levels, but the way we cook these things too. Instead of frying food, why not grill or steam? Air Fryers are also very popular at the moment, so you can enjoy the pleasures of frying food whilst simultaneously cutting back your fat – a true win win.
One thing you can make sure you do is to get a good, nutritious breakfast to start your day off well. Rather than reaching for a bacon sandwich on the way into work, perhaps try making time for a bowl of Fruity Nut Muesli, or our Toasted Malted Wheat Flakes. You can incorporate some good fats into your breakfast by choosing to accompany the above with some Greek Yoghurt and maybe sprinkling some Pumpkin Seeds on top.
We can also improve our heart health through exercise. There are two main types of exercise to help our hearts:
Aerobic Exercise is any type of movement which involves cardiovascular conditioning, more commonly known as ‘cardio’. When someone brings up cardio, you may immediately think of running, or other more intensive and high impact exercises. Yet, cardio is for everyone, no matter what your general fitness level or ability is. Some other options include:
– Attending classes such as Zumba
The NHS recommends that we do 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity 5 days a week, or 15 minutes of vigorous intensity activity 5 times a week. The beauty of cardio is that it can easily be incorporated into your daily life. Making conscious choices such as taking the stairs, or walking rather than catching a short bus, are decisions we can make which will directly benefit our heart health. If you want to up your game though in 2022, we recommend the NHS Couch to 5k app, a really easy way of building up your fitness to be able to run 5k uninterrupted – it may feel like a great feat and something unachievable, but it works! A great way to further yourself and improve your heart health.
When talking about strength training, we’re not suggesting that you start training for the World’s Strongest Man. In fact, you can even use tins from the supermarket or resistance bands to start helping your heart. Here are a few exercise ideas:
– Glute Bridges
Incorporating strength training into your routine to help with heart health might not be obvious, but it works. It increases lean muscle mass, which puts less stress on your arteries. No gym membership is needed, this can all be done in your bedroom, living room, even the kitchen whilst you’re waiting for your food to cook. We at Hides Fine Foods think that we should be incorporating this exercise into our daily routine, making it work for you, as that way it’ll stick as a part of your life. In an ideal world, a nice balance between cardio and strength training would be the perfect step to improving your heart health.
Here are some more ways to make sure your heart is as healthy as it can be:
– Make sure you are a healthy weight for your body and height
– Eat more fibre
– Cut down on salt
– Get your 5 fruit and vegetables a day
The information in this article is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. This should not be used for health or diet recommendations. Hides Fine Foods takes no responsibility for the subsequent use or application of the information provided in this article.