Heart and circulatory diseases continue to big a major public health challenge and are amongst the top causes of premature death in the UK. However there are many things we can change, known as modifiable risk factors, to improve our heart health such as stopping smoking, having a healthy diet and being more active.
Family history of heart and circulatory conditions can also play an important role in our own heart health and it's best to discuss this with your GP.
Keep your heart healthy is important at every age and there are many easy steps we can all take to help support a healthy heart.
Over half of all adults in the UK have raised cholesterol – 56% of men and 57% of women. High cholesterol is a risk factor for Coronary Heart Disease but simple changes to diet, lifestyle and exercise can made significant differences.
Cholesterol is essential for making nerves and hormones as well as helping us to digest fat. It is made in the liver by our bodies and is transported around the body by lipoproteins. There are two different types of cholesterol; Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) and High Density Lipoproteins (HDL).
LDL is often referred to as 'bad' cholesterol as this is the type associated with increased risk of heart disease, whereas 'good' HDL cholesterol has a protective role.
You can easily get your cholesterol checked at your GP surgery and well as at some pharmacies and work places. Once you know your numbers, take a look at our tips on how to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
This is a measure of total cholesterol which includes you HDL cholesterol. Some tests measure total cholesterol without HDL cholesterol so this reading should be 4mmol/L or less.
This is the measure of your HDL Cholesterol only.mmol/L = millimoles per litres
Reduce saturated fats - Saturated fats and Trans fats increase your 'bad' cholesterol in your body – so reducing foods high in these in your diets will help to improve your cholesterol. This includes butter, lard, pastries, fatty cuts of meat, cakes, biscuits and chocolate.
Include more unsaturated fats – this includes polyunsaturated fats (such as those found in fish, fish oils, and plant oils) which can lower 'bad' cholesterol and can increase 'good' cholesterol. As well as monounsaturated fats (found in nuts, seeds and olive oils) which tend to have a neutral effect on cholesterol.
Include more oily fish – such as salmon, mackerel and tuna (not canned) which are rich in omega 3s which help to keep your heart healthy
Include more oats – oats contain a fibre called beta glucans which help to naturally lower cholesterol. So why not start the day with a bowl of porridge or muesli and finish with an Active Health Cholesterol Lowering meal which contains oat beta glucans.
Get active – being more active helps to improve your total cholesterol and increase your 'good' cholesterol.
Blood pressure is the measure of the force created when you heart pumps blood through your arteries. Having raised blood pressure can increase your risk of a number of conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease or stroke.
Sometimes medication is needed to help control high blood pressure, but for many people making small changes to your diet and lifestyle can make significant differences. These include:
Active Health Cholesterol Lowering range – choose from our increasing range of healthy cholesterol lowering meals, drinks, breakfasts and snacks to help lower your cholesterol. Each contains active ingredients to help lower your cholesterol.
Choose foods which carry our Eat Well sunflower logo to help you choose the healthy choices across our store and enjoy a balanced diet.
The majority of our foods carry Front of Pack nutrition labelling – choose foods which are most green or amber for a healthier diet.
Our Lochmuir salmon has a specially enriched omega 3 diet so each fillet provides your entire weekly recommended intake of heart healthy omega 3 fats.
HEART UK are the national cholesterol charity and are experts when it comes to heart health. We have teamed up with HEART UK to help raise the awareness of heart health and high cholesterol – look out for their logo on our new Active Health meals.
© 2017 Marks and Spencer plc