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6 ways to look after your heart

How to give your heart a bit of TLC

1 Go for a walk

“Walking is probably the most underrated form of exercise,” says Carly Thornton, IFBB pro wellness athlete ( “Going for a 30-minute walk can have many key benefits such as losing weight, reducing blood pressure, increasing cardiovascular fitness and reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Scheduling in a walk per day doesn’t have to be strenuous or stressful though. It’s all about building healthier habits within your day-to-day lifestyle. Some other ways you can incorporate physical activity into your lifestyle include taking the stairs instead of the lift and, rather than driving to your local shop, walk instead. Also, if you are using public transport, get off one stop earlier and walk the rest of the journey.”

2 Stock up on oily fish

“Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and anchovies are a rich source of omega-3 essential fatty acids,” says Shona Wilkinson, a nutritionist with Nutrigums ( “Fish oils contain EPA and DHA, which are essential for hormonal regulation and most importantly for the reduction of inflammation. Inflammation is a component of all cardiovascular disease. Omega-3 oils play a role in the maintenance of healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.”

3 Take some magnesium

“Magnesium is often referred to as ‘nature’s tranquiliser’, as it has a calming and regulating effect on nerves and muscles,” says Shona Wilkinson. “It plays an essential role in the production of energy within all cells, as well as the functioning of all muscle. The heart is the most important muscle in the body, so it needs magnesium to function properly. Increase magnesium-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, eggs and molasses.”

4 Eat some nuts

“Numerous studies have shown that nuts – especially walnuts and pistachios – can be very beneficial to heart health,” says Grace Forsythe of vegan campaigning charity Viva! ( “Nuts are high in the amino acid arginine, which can be used by the body to produce nitric oxide, and this is vital for relaxation of the blood vessels which in turn helps to keep them flexible and prevents high blood pressure. Four major studies (The Adventist Health Study, the Iowa Women’s Health Study, the Nurses’ Health Study and the Physicians’ Health Study) found the risk of dying from heart disease was 37 per cent lower for those eating nuts more than four times per week compared to those who never consume nuts, with an average of 8.3 per cent reduction in risk of death for each weekly serving of nuts.”

5 Increase your fibre intake

“Wholegrains and pulses are very high in fibre, especially soluble fibre, which helps to maintain gut health,” says Grace Forsythe. “Whilst you may not immediately connect the gut to the heart, our gut bacteria can influence all parts of the body. Some gut bacteria can use dietary fibre to produce substances that reduce the amount of ‘bad’ cholesterol (known as LDL), in our blood. This reduces our risk of various cardiovascular problems, including atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.”

6 Be happy!

“Studies have shown that those who are more optimistic and positive, and who feel gratitude on a regular basis, are less likely to die from a heart attack or stroke,” says Shona Wilkinson. “Happiness comes from within; no one can give it to you. Start to have gratitude as often as you can and watch it grow. The result is increased happiness, which will make your heart happy!”

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