10 ways to love your heart Start­ing to­day!

Di­a­betes and heart is­sues of­ten go hand in hand, but the good news is pro­tect­ing your heart can be fun. Ten­nis, any­one?

Diabetic Living - - Contents -

1 Hit the sack

Get­ting enough sleep is an im­por­tant part of a healthy life­style. If you reg­u­larly wake up feel­ing less than re­freshed, talk to your GP about how to cre­ate a good sleep pat­tern, as that can help re­duce your risk of heart dis­ease.

2 Sit and knit

Ex­ces­sive stress can wreak havoc on your health, con­tribut­ing to high blood pres­sure which in turn makes the heart work harder – a risk fac­tor for stroke. Re­search from the Heart Foun­da­tion in­di­cates that stress plays a part in caus­ing heart at­tacks. Stress-bust­ing ac­tiv­i­ties like sewing, knit­ting and cro­chet­ing can help you wind down. Need an­other rea­son to un­ravel the yarn? It’s hip to knit: Kate Mid­dle­ton and Ryan Gosling have both been known to purl and twist.

Fun and games

You don’t have to be good at sport to en­joy the so­cial as­pect. With ten­nis you'll im­prove your hand-eye co­or­di­na­tion while burn­ing around 1700kJ per hour. Phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity helps you lose and main­tain a healthy weight, which makes it eas­ier for your heart to work ef­fi­ciently and im­proves your qual­ity of life. So set a date for a walk, swim, ten­nis or game of golf – you might even en­joy it!

Fit to quit

Smok­ing dam­ages your heart and lungs, which is among the rea­sons why it’s the lead­ing pre­ventable cause of death and dis­ease in Australia. Smok­ers are more likely to de­velop ath­er­o­scle­ro­sis – build-up in the ar­ter­ies – which can lead to heart dis­ease or stroke. Quit smok­ing and you’ll have a higher tol­er­ance for heart-healthy phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, too.

Con­trol the pres­sure

High blood pres­sure is the most sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor for stroke risk. While eat­ing right, los­ing weight and cut­ting back on salt can help, some peo­ple are pre­dis­posed to hy­per­ten­sion: ask your GP for med­i­ca­tion ad­vice.

Shake the habit

Sodium in­creases your blood pres­sure, which taxes the heart. Hide the ta­ble salt and con­trol your in­take by cook­ing most of your meals at home. Goal: aim to con­sume less than 1600mg sodium per day.

Eat fish

Oily fish are an ex­cel­lent source of omega-3 fatty acids that can help re­duce blood choles­terol lev­els and heart dis­ease risk.

Aim to in­clude at least two to three serves of canned or fresh salmon, mack­erel or sar­dines each week. Try our Blackened salmon, as­para­gus & cab­bage salad (page 46) for a light, de­li­cious and nu­tri­tious meal.

Savour your meals

Eat­ing mind­fully gives your brain time to reg­is­ter full­ness while eat­ing less. Los­ing 5-10 per cent of your weight can lower your blood pres­sure and boost heart health.

Get a pet

Or vol­un­teer at an an­i­mal shel­ter. The RSPCA cites that pets can boost your car­dio­vas­cu­lar health by low­er­ing your blood pres­sure and choles­terol, and low­er­ing triglyc­erides in men. Here's the proof: in a US study, peo­ple who never had a cat were found to be 40 per cent more likely to die of a heart at­tack and 30 per cent more likely to die of any car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease (in­clud­ing stroke, heart fail­ure and chronic heart dis­ease) than cat own­ers.

Go nuts

Squir­rel away a hand­ful of nuts or seeds for a snack that’s rich in heart-healthy omega3s. Wal­nuts and flaxseeds pack the big­gest punch, but brazil nuts, pecans and chia seeds con­tain omega-3 and boost HDL (good) choles­terol lev­els. Bonus: nuts and seeds add flavour as a salad top­per, and spreads are per­fect with ap­ples or cel­ery.

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