Diet and lifestyle tips to help look after your heart

Blog Health News 1st February 2023 Enquiries & appointments
A 3d heart shown between two hands promoting how to look after your heart with diet and lifestyle tips

There are many things you can do to help keep your heart healthy and reduce the risk of issues such as cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term that describes a range of conditions which affects the heart and blood vessels. It is usually associated with a build-up of fatty deposits inside the arteries (atherosclerosis) and increased risk of blood clots.

Some simple ways we can look after our heart:


  • Consuming an overall balanced, diverse and healthy diet not only helps keep our hearts healthy, but is beneficial for other parts of our body too. Consume a varied, balanced diet full of fibre; including fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes, seeds and nuts. Aim for 30 different plant foods a week.
  • Increasing consumption of HDL (good) cholesterol such as avocados, oily fish, nuts and seeds as well as extra virgin olive oil can help increase our heart protective HDL cholesterol.
  • Aim to eat two portions of fish per week, with one of those being oily. Oily fish are high in omega-3 fatty acid. A really easy way to remember is the acronym ‘S.M.A.S.H’: salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring.
  • Limit saturated fats such as takeaways, ‘high fat’ dairy products, cakes, pastries, biscuits, chocolate and fatty meats. This can help reduce the LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides which has been associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis and therefore heart disease.
  • Reduce salt intake to help reduce blood pressure. Too much salt can lead to inflammation and elevate blood pressure levels which increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks.


  • Regular physical activity can help reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure, increase insulin sensitivity, reduce stress levels and reduce the risk of obesity – all of which are risk factors for developing heart disease.
  • Aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity per week.
  • Cut down on alcohol to help keep your heart healthy, as it lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Government guidelines suggest drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol a week for men and women.
  • Quitting smoking can hugely improve cholesterol levels, heart health and many other benefits. The chemicals in cigarettes can damage the lining of your arteries causing a build up of fatty deposits which can make the blood more likely to clot.
  • Sleep quality and stress can also influence our heart health. Aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night and practice mindfulness techniques daily to help reduce stress.

Drink more water

When the brain is fully hydrated, it works optimally. A hydrated brain helps you think faster, focus for longer periods of time, improves cognitive ability, and increases creativity.

You can increase your chances of sticking to this resolution with a few simple steps:

  • Buy a water bottle. Having a water bottle with you at all times will encourage you to drink more.
  • Eat your water! Plenty of fruits and vegetables contain water and will help to hydrate you. Cucumber for example, contains 96.7% water.
  • Drink a glass of water after each bathroom break, this way you will be able to easily develop a routine.
  • Add fruit to your water. Do you think water tastes boring? Then adding fruits like raspberries or orange slices to your water will encourage you to drink more.

Get more quality sleep

Sleep is an essential part of overall health, and sleep deprivation can increase your risk of weight gain, heart disease, and depression.

There are many reasons why people don’t get enough sleep, so it’s important to focus on your schedule and lifestyle to determine the best ways to improve sleep quantity and quality.

Set yourself a goal to getting better sleep by following these basic principles:

  • Decrease your screen time before bed. If you don’t like silence then try something relaxing like soothing sounds or a non-stimulating audiobook
  • Make the environment in your bedroom right for sleep – too much light or noise can prevent you from falling asleep or staying asleep, and the temperature of the room is also important
  • Cut back on caffeine, especially in the evening as the effects can last for over 6 hours.
  • Maintain a regular sleeping pattern – you’ll feel much more refreshed and energized if you go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day than if you sleep the same number of hours at different times. This helps set your body’s internal clock and optimises the quality of your sleep.

Article written by Sophie King, Bupa Health Advisor at KIMS Hospital

Media & Press Enquiries

Madeleine Greenhalgh Senior Marketing & Communications Manager 01622 237663