Tips For a Healthy Heart

The standard healthy eating guidelines apply but there are a few extra things you can do to help protect your heart.

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Aim to eat at least two portions of fish each week, at least one of which should be oily fish. Oily fish contains omega 3 fatty acids that help protect your heart. Regular intake of this type of fat may be important if you have already suffered from a heart attack.
Eat less saturated fat to keep your blood cholesterol down. For example:
- choose lean cuts of meat, trim off any excess fat from meat, and avoid meat that has been fried
- remove the skin from chicken, duck and turkey, as this is high in saturated fat.
- quorn and soya products are low fat options.
- cut back on fats and oils high in saturates such as lard, ghee, butter, palm oil and coconut oil and use oils and fats that are high in unsaturated fat (monounsaturates and polyunsaturates), such as rapeseed, olive and sunflower oils/spreads. But only use them in small amounts or opt for lower fat spreads. All oils are a concentrated source of calories as they are 100% fat.
- choose semi-skimmed, 1% or skimmed milk rather than whole milk; opt for low or reduced fat dairy products such as, low fat yogurt, low fat soft cheese and reduced fat hard cheese.
- Grate cheese rather than slicing it so you eat less.
- Grill rather than fry foods whenever possible.
- Go easy with creamy and cheesy sauces. (e.g. carbonara)
- Pastry is high in saturated fat, so try not to have pies, pastries and sausage rolls too often. And go for pies with just a lid or a base.
- Compare food labels to choose options that are lower in saturates.
Eat wholegrain and high-fibre products when possible such as wholegrain bread, crackers/crispbread and breakfast cereals, brown rice and brown pasta. Foods such as oats and pulses (peas, beans, lentils) contain soluble fibre which may help to reduce blood cholesterol levels.
Choose food with lower levels of salt and don’t add any extra to cooking or at the table. Salt is the main source of sodium in the diet, a high intake of which is related to high blood pressure. Other sources include sodium monoglutamate which is a key ingredient in soy sauce. Adults should be aiming for no more than 6g of salt each day.
Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables everyday, and try to include lots of different types., A portion of beans or lentils also counts towards your 5 a day and these have an added benefit of releasing energy slowly which is thought to be good for your heart.
Foods with added plant stanols and sterols, eaten regularly so as to provide about 2g stanols/sterols per day, can help lower raised blood cholesterol level. A variety of such products are now available including spreads, yogurts, yogurt drinks and cream cheese style spread.
British Nutrition Foundation


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