A healthy diet is one of the most important ways to reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
Here are some guidelines for a heart-healthy approach to food and cooking.
Avoid saturated fats
A diet high in calories and fats, especially saturated fats, is closely linked to:
- high cholesterol
- high blood pressure.
Nuts and seeds
Some foods such as nuts, avocados and seeds contain unsaturated fats. These types of fat will actually help to lower your cholesterol levels, so make sure you include them in your diet. However, they are energy-dense, so should not be eaten in excess if you are watching your weight.
Have at least three fish meals (fresh or canned) per week. Fish contains omega-3 fats, which lower cholesterol levels and help prevent blood clotting. Oily fish include tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel, mullet, trout, swordfish. White fish are also a source of omega-3.
Cut down on salt
Too much salt (sodium) in the diet can contribute to high blood pressure.
Increase fruit and vegetables
Eat at least two pieces of fruit daily. Vegetables have been shown to be protective against heart disease and certain cancers. Aim for four or five serves per day.
Soluble fibre can help lower cholesterol reabsorption, and assist with blood glucose level control. Find it in oat bran, barley bran, wheat bran, rolled oats, legumes (e.g. kidney beans, chick peas, lentils), wholemeal breads and cereals, psyllium husks, fruit and vegetables.
Insoluble fibre is good for bowel health. Sources include fruit, vegetables and bran.
Reduce your cholesterol intake
High levels of cholesterol in the blood increase your risk of heart disease.
- Eat no more than two or three whole eggs per week. Egg yolks contain cholesterol, while whites are cholesterol-free.
- Only eat offal meats, such as liver, brains, kidneys, once a month or less.
- Only eat prawns, shrimp, octopus and calamari once a week or less, as they are fairly high in cholesterol. Other shellfish are low in cholesterol and may be eaten as desired.
Stay a healthy weight
Many people with heart disease are unable to do much physical activity or exercise, and find that they gain weight while eating their usual diet. But there are ways to stay active, when you have a heart condition. Read more
It is very important to eat a healthy diet to help you to lose weight, and to lower your cholesterol and blood pressure.