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5 things you can do to help prevent heart disease right now

By Rachel O'Regan |


I Quit Sugar – 5 things you can do to help prevent heart disease right now

Heart disease is the single leading cause of death. Not just in Australia, but around the world.

If that wasn’t worrying enough, research shows that kids as young as SIX can show warning signs of heart disease due to a poor lifestyle. This sadly isn’t unheard of – more than 400,000 U.S. deaths from cardiovascular causes in 2015 were linked to unhealthy diet.

Phew, that’s gotta get your heart going! Thankfully, there are some ways everyone can help prevent heart disease – starting right here.

Note: Each body is different and has unique needs. If you are at risk of heart disease (or suspect you might be), consult a doctor before changing your diet or lifestyle.

1. Quit sugar.

For the first time, the American Heart Association and the Heart Foundation are talking about sugar. It’s not just because it’s trending. The largest study of its kind found sugar-sweetened drinks to increase risk of cardiovascular by up to 35 per cent.

Of course, factors like poor lifestyle and obesity come into play. But the link is just too significant to ignore.

As lead author of the study, Dr Frank Hu, said: “Although reducing the consumption of […] added sugar alone is unlikely to solve the obesity epidemic entirely, limiting intake is one simple change that will have a measurable impact on weight control and prevention of cardio-metabolic diseases.”

2. Eat healthy fats.

What, are we crazy? Although we’ve been told to avoid fats since the 1960s, current science shows that some fats are actually protective for heart health. Try monounsaturated fats (found in olive oil and avocados) and omega-3s (in oily fish and seeds).

And, eat your eggs! A CSIRO study of 84,000 people found they only increase health benefits.

“Eggs do contain cholesterol, but the amount of cholesterol in food has a very, very tiny impact on cholesterol in the blood plasma,” says CSIRO nutritionist Professor Manny Noakes. “And the increase you see in cholesterol is usually due to the HDL cholesterol, which is a healthy cholesterol.”

3. Sit less.

How’s this for a scary stat: scientists estimate that every hour you sit watching TV, you shave almost 22 minutes off your total lifespan.

And another: a study of 800,000 people found that those who sat the most raised their risk of “cardiovascular events” by 147 per cent.

That’s enough to make you jump out of your seat! But don’t freak – simple, mindful activity, such as walking to work, or standing at your desk will help.

4. Minimise toxins.

It should come as no surprise that smoking is bad for your heart (and every other part of your body).

While a glass of red at dinner can protect against heart disease, excess is damaging – alcohol can weaken heart muscles, as well as raise your blood pressure and stroke risk.

5. Practice self-care.

Nobody quite knows why, but depression is linked to heart disease. It’s thought to be caused by a decrease in motivation to stay healthy, hormonal imbalances and even stickier blood.

“About one in five who have a heart attack are found to have depression soon after the heart attack,” says Dr. Roy C. Ziegelstein, Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins.

It’s important to engage in mindfulness, seek social support and ask for help when you need it. You can call Beyond Blue any time at 1300 22 4636.

Find out more about heart health at by visiting the Heart Foundation.

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