Top 10 heart healthy Christmas tips

CrackersIt can be tricky to protect your health over Christmas so we've put together some easy to follow Christmas tips to give you some food for thought over the holiday season.


Healthy salmon recipe

Salmon with warm tomato and herb dressing

200g (7 oz) brown basmati rice
4 x 150g (5 1/2 oz) skinless salmon fillets
Freshly ground black pepper
Low-calorie cooking spray (or 1 tsp unsaturated oil)
4 vine-ripened tomatoes
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1-2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp tarragon or 1 tbsp basil, chopped
3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
100g (3 1/2 oz) rocket, watercress or baby spinach

1. Cook rice per packet instructions. Pre-heat the grill. Season the salmon with black pepper, and grill on a tray lined with foil for 4-7 minutes, or until cooked to your liking. To skin the tomatoes, make a cross on the stalk end with a sharp knife. Place into a bowl and cover with boiling water. After 3-4 minutes place into a bowl of chilled water. Drain and slip the skins off, quarter and de-seed. Finely chop.

2. Mist a non-stick pan with cooking spray (or heat oil) and lightly fry the shallot until just golden, add the garlic, cook for a minute more then stir in the tomato, their juices, the vinegar, herbs and extra oil to make a warm dressing. Add a dash more vinegar to suit your taste.

3. Serve the salmon on a handful of greens with the rice and the dressing spooned over.

1. Be a quitter

Give up smoking and help your heart. Before Christmas, and New Year are good times to do this and with all the expense of Christmas, it's easier on your pocket too. Get tips, advice and support in our quit smoking section.

2. Get your dancing shoes on

Keep active during the festive season and help work off the extra calories. Try going for a brisk walk at lunchtime or why not have some fun and dance away the calories at the Christmas party! Get out more ideas in our staying active section.

3. Go low

It can be difficult to avoid high-fat food choices at this time of year, but there are some healthier options you can include on the buffet table if you’re entertaining.

Healthy examples include vegetable sticks with low fat yoghurt or tomato based dips and sandwiches with lower fat fillings, like sliced egg and tomato or low fat spreadable cheese with roasted vegetables. Find out more in our healthy eating section.

4. Cut down on salt

The recommended maximum amount of salt per day for adults is 6g (or about 1 teaspoon). So go easy with the crisps, salted nuts and other nibbles.

It’s also worth getting into the habit of reading the food labels, such as those on pre-prepared party foods, to help you choose the healthiest options. See our salt section for more information.

5. Eat fruit

Fruit makes a great snack which can be eaten anytime of the day. Don’t head off to the work party hungry, as you are likely to be tempted by the less healthy options and may find you eat more than you normally would.

Instead, have a healthy snack beforehand such as an apple or a pear, low fat yogurt with dried fruit or a fruit smoothie which will take the edge off your hunger and helping you to make better choices.

6. Festive cheer

Keep within sensible alcohol limits which is no more than 3-4 units a day for men and no more than 2-3 units a day for women. Try alternating alcoholic drinks with water or pure, unsweetened fruit juice.

Find out more about alcohol and heart disease, and if you're recovering from a heart operation or on heart medication, check with your doctor.

7. Something fishy

Oily fish like mackerel and salmon is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, which can help protect against heart disease. Salmon makes a special Boxing Day meal that offers a lighter choice after the other Christmas food and can be eaten hot or cold.

8. Chill out

The build up to Christmas can be stressful and it can cause us to slip back into unhealthy behaviours, such as smoking and drinking more.

So take time out to relax, spend some time with friends, or go for a stroll in the park and help reach your 30 a day physical activity target at the same time. 

9. Keep warm

Read our top tips for dealing with the cold weather when you have a heart condition.

10. Reach out

Why not join our online community - share your stories, get advice and meet people in similar situations.