A long life expectancy hinges on your ability to avoid chronic complications, one of the most deadly being heart disease, a condition where the heart’s blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries.

Heart disease is a major killer both in the UK and worldwide so taking steps to mitigate your risk of developing it is essential to leading a long and healthy life.

Diet plays a key role in keeping the threat at bay and evidence suggests eating popular food in moderation can bring heart-healthy benefits.


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According to a meta-analysis of 15 observational studies published in the European Journal of Nutrition, moderate cheese intake was associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

The analysis, based on a study into the effects of cheese intake on cardiovascular risk in more than 200,00 participants, found that people who regularly consumed cheese were up to 14 percent less likely to develop heart disease.

The Chinese researchers reported that these effects were most pronounced among participants who consumed around 40 grams, or 1.41 ounces, of cheese every day.

However, it is important to note that the findings suggested that eating more than 40g a day of cheese may actually increase your risk of developing cardiovascular complications.

Why you should eat cheese in moderation

While evidence suggests eating the popular food in moderation can boost heart health, cheese has a high-saturated fat and salt content, components that can hike your risk of heart disease.

As the British Heart Foundation explains, eating too much saturated fat and salt can send your blood pressure soaring and raise cholesterol levels – markers of heart disease.

According to the BHF, you should opt for lower-fat cheeses – such as mozzarella, feta, cottage cheese or reduced-fat cheeses – as this will provide less saturated fat.

“Cooking from scratch helps too, as convenience foods often contain higher-fat cheeses. Take time to stop and ask if your dish really needs cheese at all,” adds the health site.

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While reducing your intake of saturated fat can help stave off the risk of heart disease, upping your intake of unsaturated fats will also help to ward off the threat.

As the NHS explains, unsaturated fats have been shown to increase levels of “good” cholesterol and help reduce any blockage in your arteries.

Cholesterol is a way substance found in your blood, and good cholesterol, also called HDL cholesterol, counters the build-up of “bad” cholesterol in your blood that can clog up your arteries.

HDL picks up excess cholesterol in your blood and takes it back to your liver where it’s broken down and removed from your body, in turn reducing your of heart disease.


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Good sources of unsaturated fat include:

  • Oily fish
  • Avocados
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Sunflower, rapeseed, olive and vegetable oils

Other ways to reduce the risk of heart disease

For optimal results, you should combine a healthy diet with regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight.

Having a healthy weight reduces your chances of developing high blood pressure, a precursor to heart disease.

“Regular exercise will make your heart and blood circulatory system more efficient, lower your cholesterol level, and also keep your blood pressure at a healthy level,” explains the NHS.

Emphasising the heart-healthy benefits of exercise

As the NHS explains, people who don’t exercise are twice as likely to have a heart attack as those who exercise regularly.

Heart attacks, a condition that is triggered when the heart is starved of oxygen, is the leading cause of heart disease.

“The heart is a muscle and, like any other muscle, benefits from exercise. A strong heart can pump more blood around your body with less effort,” says the NHS.

Any aerobic exercise, such as walking, swimming and dancing, makes your heart work harder and keeps it healthy.

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