By the Royal Health Awareness Society (RHAS)

Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and in Jordan, 40 per cent of deaths are caused by heart disease, according to the Jordan Cardiac Society. About 80 per cent of all cases of cardiovascular disease is preventable by making small changes to lifestyle. Here are seven ways to improve and protect your heart.

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables
Vegetables and fruits contain vitamins and minerals that help prevent cardiovascular disease. Fill at least half your plate with fruits and veggies and serve them in different ways so that you don’t get bored- beware of unhealthy additions such as fatty dressings

Limiting foods with cholesterol
Limiting red meat (causing high cholesterol) and foods that contain saturated fats, mainly found in animal products, will make a positive difference. Plus, eating foods high in soluble fibre helps prevent the digestive tract from absorbing cholesterol. These foods include fruit (apples, bananas, oranges, pears) and legumes (kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas)

Cutting back on salt
Use herbs and other condiments to flavour your food instead of salt and watch the sodium content in readymade foods. How much salt is too much? The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends not consuming more than five grams of salt per day

Choosing healthier carbs and protein-rich foods
Aim for whole grains when choosing to consume carbohydrates and include proteins such as fish, lean meats and legumes in your meals

Managing your stress levels
Chronic stress increases blood pressure and may leave you more likely to smoke and overeat, all contributing risk factors for heart disease

Avoiding tobacco
Smoking increases heart rate, tightens major arteries, can cause irregular heartbeat, raises blood pressure and increases the risk of stroke and heart attack

Staying active
Exercise strengthens the heart muscle and keeps weight, cholesterol and blood pressure at healthy levels. People who don›t exercise are almost twice as likely to get heart disease. So making the shift from a sedentary lifestyle to an active one is worth the time and effort!

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