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Eat your heart out

Eat your heart out

By Katherine Webb

Along with exercise, a healthy diet is one of the biggest contributors to a healthy heart. Cardiovascular exercise may help to keep your heart healthy, but what types of food should we be eating to keep our arteries clear and our hearts pumping?


Fill up on black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans and lentils. They’re rich in omega-3 acids, soluble fibre, B vitamins and are low GI.  A cup a day (190g) is linked to lower blood pressure. Try them in stews, salads and curries.


The cacao in dark chocolate contains polyphenols, which lower inflammation and artery plaque, and flavonoids, which lower blood pressure. The bad news? Just 6.3 g (half a square) of chocolate makes a difference. After that it’s simply indulgence!  


Wine contains resveratrol, an antioxidant which many people consider to be heart healthy due to its protective effect on blood vessels. However, the British Heart Foundation is still undecided and some recent studies suggest no benefits can be gained from drinking red wine. If the experts can’t agree, you need to make up your own mind!


Oats are rich in soluble fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, folate and potassium, helping to lower cholesterol, keep arteries clear and lower blood pressure. The evidence is so compelling even the NHS recommends eating oats to protect your heart.


No fish contains more of the heart-healthy omega-3s than salmon. The FSA recommends two 140g portions per week to reap the many cardiovascular benefits including more relaxed arteries, reduced inflammation and lowered blood pressure.


Walnuts, almonds and other nuts are full of unsaturated fat which lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. They also help relax blood vessels and support blood flow to the heart. Between one and five portions of unsalted nuts each week is enough to significantly reduce your risk of heart disease. 

 Add regular exercise to the menu and you’ll heart will thank you for years to come. Isn’t it worth the effort?