Heart and circulatory diseases is the UK's biggest killer (Department of Health) Many of these deaths are premature and preventable so it's really important to look after the health of your heart.
What we eat and drink can play a big part on how healthy our hearts are. The Government advises eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, high in fibre and low in salt and fat, especially saturated fat, to help reduce our chances of developing heart disease.
There are other factors that can influence your heart health, including:
Being a healthy weight and keeping active is important not just for your heart health, but for your general health as well. Check if you are a healthy weight using our BMI calculator
Heart Health and Cholesterol
Nearly half of all deaths from heart disease in the UK are due to raised cholesterol. Cholesterol is made by the body, but it's also found in some foods such as shellfish, eggs, dairy products, poultry, and offal (liver or kidney, for example).
Foods containing cholesterol have little impact on blood cholesterol level, though, and most people don't need to reduce cholesterol-containing foods unless advised by their GP to do so.
Cholesterol in the Body
Cholesterol is essential for making nerves and hormones as well as helping us digest fat. It is made in the liver and is transported around the body by lipoproteins. There are two different types of lipoproteins: low density lipoprotein (LDL) and high density lipoprotein (HDL).
LDL is 'bad' cholesterol, as it's this type that is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, whereas HDL is 'good' cholesterol.
If there's more than 5 millimoles a litre (5mmol/l) of cholesterol in your blood, your doctor may advise you to make some changes to your lifestyle or diet.
saturated, or trans fats, can increase your 'bad' cholesterol levels, so lowering your intake of these can help to reduce your 'bad' cholesterol
monounsaturated fats such as those found in olive oil, nuts and seeds tend to have a neutral effect on blood cholesterol
polyunsaturated fats, such as fish oils and vegetable oils, can reduce 'bad' cholesterol and may increase the levels of 'good' cholesterol
Read more about fats
Blood Pressure and Heart Health
Blood pressure is a measure of the force created when your heart pumps blood through your arteries. Having raised or high blood pressure can increase your risk of heart disease, kidney disease or stroke.
Not everyone with high blood pressure needs to have tablets to control it, as there are changes to your diet and lifestyle that can help.