How to Improve your Heart Health – World Heart Day

Heart health means so much to me. My family is full to the rafters of heart disease. My parents died at 58 and 63 from heart attacks, when I was a teenager. More recently my brother and sister both had heart attacks in their 60s, thankfully both survived. I can absolutely concur that heart disease is an issue in our family and I have to be very mindful and careful about my heart health.

So when Filippo Berio invited me along to their heart health event at the stunning Italian Embassy location. I was fascinated and had to be there. What can I learn about better heart health and how can I share this information with my Mrs Mummypenny audience?

Some stats from the British Heart Foundation, TODAY

  • 460 people will die from a heart of circulatory disease
  • 130 of those will be younger than 75
  • 7.6m people are living with heart or circulatory disease
  • 260 hospital admissions will be due to a heart attack

Scary stats, heart disease is the biggest killer or men and women world wide.

How Can we Protect Our Hearts?

The positive news is that there is a lot we can do as individuals to protect our heart health, we can exercise more, 30 minutes of exercise every day, which can be a brisk walk, not just energetic trips to the gym, a run or a cycle.

All my family smoked, which was a huge contributing factor to their heart issues. Don’t smoke.

Focus on your body fat % and your visceral fat. The fancy weighing machines at Boots or your gym can check these measurement. Don’t even look at things like BMI or weight, focus in on the measurement that matter, and trends over time. Muscle mass going up, body fat mass going down, body fat % going down and visceral fat (the fat around your major organs) is at the right level or reducing.

And include olive oil as part of your diet. THIS IS NEW NEWS TO ME!

We can all become stuck in our ways with the food we eat and things we may have learnt in the past. Eating low fat food is always something that gets me and is often what health professionals advise to ‘lose weight’. It has been proven multiple times that low fat diet do not work. All of those diet drinks, yoghurts and processed foods are full of additives and general bad stuff.

I am still emotionally scarred by Slimming world and Muller Light Yoghurts. They were 0 points on that diet and I would eat at least five yoghurts a day. Coincidentally (or not), my 20s was my decade where I had the most weight problems. Constantly yo-yoing up and down with my slimming world attempts and breaks, always putting on a bit more weight than I had lost.

Good fat is essential in our diet and actually helps you to absorb the goodness from the food we eat. And a good fat, olive oil has been proven to improve heart health. Filippo Berio, the UKs leading olive oil brand, worked with and funded Dr. Bill Mullen, a senior research fellow at the university of Glasgow’s Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences to confirm that just 20ml of olive oil can improve heart health. This can be extra virgin olive oil or just olive oil, a staple part of the Mediterranean diet. And other oils such as rapeseed or sunflower produced no difference to heart health.

I have been using rapeseed oil for YEARS, thinking it was the best oil for my health. Now it’s proven to not have any effect. Shopping habits will be immediately changed.

Dr Bill’s research was carried out in Glasgow, the heart disease capital of the UK, and also where olive oil consumption is low as well. He and team were able to prove that both olive and extra virgin olive oil produced significant changes to heart health after just 6 weeks of consuming 20ml of olive oil every day.

Ideas to use more Olive Oil

There was a demonstration from nutritionist Linda Vezzoli with lots of olive oil rich food to try at the event. Here are some easy ways to use more olive oil.

  • add some to Greek yoghurt with honey and cinnamon or fruit
  • Blitz into your morning smoothie
  • Whip into ricotta, feta or mascarpone cheese
  • Drizzle onto steamed or roasted vegetables and season with salt
  • Make easy and homemade pesto to top meat and fish, serve with pasta or with crudites or crackers.
Or give this recipe a try as I will be doing this weekend.

Sicilian Pesto Recipe

100ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil

40g of blanches almonds without skin

1 clove garlic, peeled and halved

200g chopped tomatoes

Sea salt to taste

50g of pecorino or parmesan cheese grated

80g fresh basil, washed and chopped

Place all ingredients except olive oil into food processor, pulse until blended.

Don’t blend too vigorously

Once blended add the olive oil slowly until you have a smooth pesto.

EASY. I am going to give this recipe a try, and pop the video onto Instagram.

My Heart Health

I feel more empowered with this information, something that is so close to my heart, literally. And am going to eat more olive oil to improve my heart health. And of course carry on running;-)


More to explore


Lynn Beattie

Aka Mrs MummyPenny

Personal Finance Expert

I write about personal finance made simple, lifestyle choices that will save you time and money, as well as products and services that offer great value.

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