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Men's Heart Health

Men’s Heart Health: 10 Effective Strategies for Cholesterol Control

Proven Strategies to Boost Men’s Heart Health

How can I reduce my risk of heart disease?

Coronary heart disease is a major cause of death in the UK and across the world. It happens when your heart’s blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances (atherosclerosis) in the coronary arteries that can eventually lead to heart attack or stroke.

This fatty build up can be caused by lifestyle factors like smoking, drinking too much alcohol, a poor diet and lack of exercise.

High blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes also increase the risk of atherosclerosis.

The main symptoms of coronary heart disease are:
  1. chest pain (angina)
  2. shortness of breath
  3. pain in your neck, shoulders, jaw or arms
  4. feeling faint
  5. feeling sick (nausea)

Whether you have a family history of heart disease, have been given a diagnosis of high blood pressure or raised cholesterol, or simply because you want to do your best to look after your heart, a few simple changes to your daily food habits and lifestyle can really reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Stopping smoking, drinking less alcohol, exercising regularly, watching your weight and eating a healthy diet can significantly reduce your risk of high cholesterol and heart disease.

How does heart disease affect men?

Heart disease affects more men than women. Some reasons for this include the cardioprotective effect of oestrogen before the menopause, but it is also thought that some of this could be down to how men handle stress differently to women, differences in diets and lifestyle and that men may be less likely to seek medical advice.

How can I make my heart stronger?

  1. Cut your kcals

Cutting back on empty calories and not eating more than you need sounds like common sense, but did you know that it can help reduce your risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease?

Men's Heart Health | Cut your kcals

Even a small drop in your daily calorie intake can have a big impact. The easy way to do this is to cut back on snacks and reduce your portion sizes a little.

  1. Time your meals

Circadian fasting, or time restricted eating is sometimes known as intermittent fasting. This way of eating means having an overnight fast of between 12 and 16 hours.

As well as helping with weight loss, this pattern of eating may improve blood pressure, cholesterol balance, triglyceride levels, and risk of type 2 diabetes.

The importance of timing your meals for men's heart health

Start by shifting your breakfast a little later and stopping eating earlier in the evening. Studies show that eating most of your food earlier in the day may have the most benefits for heart health and thoughts are that it is because this corresponds to our natural circadian rhythm.

  1. A daily dose of omega 3 fats

A diet high in saturated fats may increase levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad one), but rather than adopt a low fat diet, switching to  a ’better fat diet’ could have a lot more benefits for your heart. Studies show that omega 3 fats help reduce risk factors for heart disease. Good sources include oily fish, flaxseed and hemp seeds. Here’s how you are improve your healthy fat balance:

  • Aim to eat oily fish like sardines, mackerel, herring and trout 2-3 x week
  • Add Linwoods Milled Flaxseed or Shelled hemp to your daily diet – great in yoghurt, smoothies and overnight oats

Omega 3 for in shelled hemp for men's heart health

  1. A taste of the Mediterranean

The Mediterranean diet is renowned for its benefits for heart health. Packed with ingredients like polyphenols from colourful fruit, vegetables and herbs, healthy fats from olives and olive oil, oily fish, nuts and seeds and fibre from wholegrains and pulses.

mediterranean diet and it's benefits for men's heart health

Here are simple ways to bring a taste of the Med to your diet:
  1. Add a drizzle of olive oil to salads and steamed veg
  2. Eat oily fish 3 x week
  3. Eat a rainbow of colourful fruit and vegetables
  4. Use beans and lentils in soups, salads and one-pot wonders
  5. Use herbs like rosemary and thyme
  6. Eat more fibre

Replacing white and refined carbohydrates like white bread, white rice and white pasta with their wholegrain alternatives will add more fibre to your diet, helps to balance blood glucose-insulin levels to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Eat More Fibre For Men's Heart health

5 Tips To Introduce More Fibre
  1. Use jumbo oats for overnight oats or porridge and top with Linwoods milled flaxseed or shelled hemp
  2. Make the switch to wholegrains like brown rice, wholemeal pasta and higher fibre noodles
  3. Choose oatcakes instead of crackers
  4. Eat the skins of fruit and veg
  5. Add beans and lentils to salads, curries and stews
  6. Cut the sugars

Sugar is bads news for your heart. It increases cholesterol, stored more body fat around the middle and messes with your blood sugar-insulin balance..

Start reading labels and notice how much sugar is in the food you eat.

  • Low sugar = 5g sugar per 100g or less
  • High sugar = 22g per 100g or less

Cut The Sugars For Men's Heart Health

Breakfast cereals (even healthy looking ones), sauces, biscuits, sweets and baked goods can be laden with sugar.

  1. Cut back on alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease, so keep an eye on your intake. Less is more and despite what you have heard, a daily glass of wine is not recommended to reduce your risk of heart disease. The recommended limit is a maximum of 14 units of alcohol, spread across 3 days.

Cut Out Alcohol For Mens Heart health

  1. Keep an eye on your salt intake

Too much salt can increase blood pressure. Foods like cheese, bacon and ham, processed foods, breakfast cereals and biscuits can be high in salt. Keep your levels below 6g a day and look at the traffic light system on food labels to make sure you are choosing a low salt option.

Reduce Salt In Take For Mens Heart Health

  1. Address the stress

Stress is a big player when it comes to heart disease, so finding ways to help you cope with the stresses and strains of life is an essential life skill. Talking to friends and family, being in nature, yoga and mindfulness can all be useful techniques to help balance stress.

Reduce Stress for men's heart health

  1. Move your body

Daily exercise can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Build it up gradually if this is new for you. The NHS recommendations for physical exercise are below.

NHS Recommendations For Physical Exericise
  • strengthening activities that work all the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) on at least 2 days a week
  • at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week
  • spread exercise evenly over 4 to 5 days a week, or every day
  • reduce time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some activity

exercise is essential for men's heart health

References:

References used for Men’s Heart Health


Jane McClenaghan is Northern Ireland’s most recognised nutritionist with over 20 year’s experience. Her company Vital Nutrition specialises in developing and delivering group sessions for corporate and community clients both online and in-person as well as running an online membership club and offering one-to-one consultations.

Jane Immune System

Jane’s knowledge in the subject area of health and wellbeing is unrivalled as indicated by her qualifications, reputation and experience. Here she shares her knowledge on Men’s heart health

Jane’s sessions cover a range of health and wellbeing topics from mental health to stress, female and male health, healthy eating on a budget, heart health, sleep, family wellbeing and much more.
Jane is also the author of two books on nutrition, she writes a weekly column in the Irish News, has a monthly slot on radio U105 and is a regular contributor to the BBC, The Belfast Telegraph and many other media outlets.

You can find out more and get in touch with Vital Nutrition here;

Vital Nutrition (vital-nutrition.co.uk)

If you enjoyed Janes insight into men’s heart health you can find more articles from Jane in our blog where she covers men’s heart health, menopause, nutrition and much more.

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