Your heart is the most critical muscle in your body — it’s what keeps you alive. It ticks 24-7 and except for the times when you’re relaxing or sleeping, it rarely gets a break. Here are some fascinating facts about your heart that might inspire you to give it a little more TLC every day.
- Your heart beats over 100,000 times every day, pumping blood around your body so that your cells get the oxygen and nutrients they need.
- It pumps around 7,200 litres of blood a day. Enough to fill a bath!
- It makes your blood travel 19,000 km everyday – the same distance as flying from London to Hong Kong and back.
- It will beat more than two and a half billion times (2,500,000,000) by the time you reach your 70th birthday.
- Every day, your heart creates enough energy to drive a medium-sized truck 20 miles.
- It beats around 70 times a minute in the average adult. A hummingbird’s heart beats about 20 times a second. A blue whale’s heart beats between four and eight times a minute.
You can look after your heart by making sure you give it the care it needs and following a healthy lifestyle. Here are a few simple tips that will help…
Give up smoking
Smoking is one of the main causes of coronary heart disease. A year after giving up, your risk of a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker.
Getting active can reduce your risk of developing heart disease. It can also be a great mood booster and stress buster. If you can get outside into green space … even better!
Manage your weight
Being overweight can increase your risk of heart disease. Stick to a healthy, balanced diet low in fat and sugar with plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Eat more fibre
Eat plenty of fibre to help lower your risk of heart disease – aim for at least 30g a day. There are a variety of good sources such as wholemeal bread, bran, oats and wholegrain cereals, potatoes with their skins on, and plenty of fruit and veg.
Cut down on saturated fat
Eating too many foods that are high in saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood and increase your risk of heart disease. Choose lean meat and lower-fat dairy products (but look out for any added sugars)
Get your 5 A DAY
Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day. They’re a good source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. There are lots of tasty ways to get your 5 A DAY, like adding chopped fruit to cereal or including vegetables in your pasta sauces and curries.
To maintain healthy blood pressure try adding less salt to your cooking and your plate, or try to cut it out completely. Watch out for high salt levels in ready-made foods. Most of the salt we eat is already in the foods we buy. Check the food labels – a food is high in salt if it has more than 1.5g salt (or 0.6g sodium) per 100g.
Eat fish at least twice a week, including a portion of oily fish. Mackerel, sardines, tuna and salmon are good sources of omega-3, which helps protect against heart disease.
Drink less alcohol
Regularly drinking more than the NHS recommends can have a noticeable impact on your waistline. Try to limit days that you drink and how much you drink to reduce the risk of serious problems with your health, including risks to your heart health.
Check the food label
Look at the labels on food and drink packaging to see how many calories and how much fat, salt and sugar the product contains. Understanding what is in food and how it fits in with the rest of your diet will help you make healthier choices. A good place to start may be eating less food in packaging – your body will love you for it and so will the environment!