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4 great ways to benefit your heart and blood sugar

Simple changes to your lifestyle and eating habits can help to reduce your risk of heart disease. 1

Navigating the supermarket aisles and avoiding the temptation to buy pre-packaged foods can be a challenge, but simple adjustments to how you fuel your body can improve your health and well-being. For example, swapping out processed or pre-packaged, high sodium, high sugar foods for plant based alternatives, wholegrains and foods rich in vitamins, minerals and omega 3 will help to lower your cholesterol 2 and help you take back control of what you are eating.

Whilst giving up smoking may feel like the biggest hurdle to overcome, it is also one of the best things you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease 3. Putting in place a plan to quit, with the support of your doctor, family and friends will help you stick to your goals and quit for life.

Moving your body by doing an activity or sport that you enjoy is a great way to help manage diabetes. When you’re active, your cells become more responsive to insulin and therefore can work better, 4 so even small changes to your daily activities, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, will lift your overall mood and provide health benefits.

Change can be hard, and taking the first step the biggest challenge of all, but the health and lifestyle benefits will be worth it both in the short and long term.

  1. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2019 Mar-Apr; 13(2): 204–212. Published online 2018 Dec 2. doi: 10.1177/1559827618812395, assessed 10 March, 2021 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6378495/ (Quote from source: “Daily habits and actions powerfully affect the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), in general, and coronary heart disease, in particular. Regular physical activity, sound nutrition, weight management, and not smoking cigarettes have all been demonstrated to significantly reduce the risk of CVD”)
  2. American Diabetes Association, Assessed 16 December 2020, https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/recipes-nutrition/meal-planning/go-heart-healthy (Quote from source: "Fresh vegetables, whole grains, and fruit are low in fat and high in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber that can reduce your risk of heart disease. Nuts, avocados, and plant-based oils (like olive, peanut and safflower oils to name a few) provide you with healthy fats. [...] Foods like packaged (store bought) snacks, sweets, baked goods, fried foods, red meat and processed meats like bacon and sausage are high in saturated fat that raises your bad cholesterol. [...] Foods high in omega-3 fats are especially beneficial for your heart health and include "fatty" fish like salmon, albacore tuna, herring, rainbow trout, mackerel and sardines.")
  3. American Diabetes Association, Assessed 16 December 2020 https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-risk/prevention/smoking (Quote from source: “Smoking hurts your lungs and your heart. It lowers the amount of oxygen that gets to your organs, raises your bad cholesterol and raises your blood pressure. All of these can raise your risk of heart attack or stroke.”)
  4. Diabetes.org USA, Regular exercise can help put you back in control of your life. assessed 10 March, 2021  https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/fitness (Quote from source: “Because when you’re active, your cells become more sensitive to insulin so it works more effectively.”)  

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