It’s important to remember that eating too much fat, no matter what type it is, will lead to excess weight. Being overweight increases the stress and pressure on the heart muscle, so watch your OVERALL fat intake.
Four Or More Fruit And Vegetables A Day
There’s no denying it – fruit and vegetables are good for your heart. They provide the right amounts of vitamins in the right combinations to help keep your heart healthy.
Try to have at least four portions or servings of fruit and vegetables every day. Choose a wide variety, and use frozen vegetables and fruit tinned in natural juice for convenience. Get the best out of cooked vegetables by steaming them or boiling them in less water for less time. While raw vegetables are good
for you, don’t forget to try vegetable soups and tomato sauce based dishes like baked beans.
Use more vegetables in your meals – try reducing the amount of meat you use and substituting some of your usual portion with extra vegetables. Before you eat fresh fruit, clean it well to remove any sprays or chemicals that might be on the skin.
Watch Your Salt And Sodium Intake
Most of us love the taste of salt – so much of the food we generally eat has so much salt in it, why wouldn’t we?
As well as cutting down on the table salt you add to cooked food, try to eat as much freshly prepared food as possible. Food that is pre-prepared and pre-cooked will often have a lot of salt added to it. Watch out for salt in dried foods such as packet soups and stock cubes. Try using black pepper and herbs instead of salt to add more flavour to food.
Choose High Fibre Energy Sources
Eating high fibre energy foods like wholemeal bread, jacket potatoes, wholegrain breakfast cereals and whole-wheat pasta and rice, will not only fill you up and keep your bowels regular. They will also provide you with essential vitamins and minerals and soluble fibre, which will enhance your heart health.
Vegetable foods such as peas, beans and lentils are also great sources of energy and soluble fibre and can be used as an alternative to meat if you fancy a change.
Less refined high fibre foods tend to retain more of their natural goodness, especially water soluble vitamins, making whole fruit and vegetables, brown rice and whole grains doubly good for your heart.
Vitamin And Mineral Supplements
Vitamin and mineral supplements do not adequately substitute vitamins and minerals naturally present in food. However, there is some evidence that vitamin and mineral supplementation may enhance heart health (e.g. folic acid has been found to reduce blood homocysteine levels – a risk factor for heart disease).
If you are considering taking a supplement, choose a multi vitamin and mineral type as there is less risk of overdosing on individual vitamins with this option. Ideally, consult your GP before commencing supplementation.
Summary Tips for a Heart Healthy Diet
- Eat less fat and high fat products (especially cakes, biscuits, visible fat on meats and high fat dairy products).
- Use nonstick vegetable oil cooking sprays instead of other oils.
- Buy lean cuts of meat and reduce portion size to 3 ounces (the size of a pack of cards).
- Eat more fish, skinless chicken and turkey. Turkey steaks are a great alternative to bacon.
- Try low-fat snacks such as popcorn and rice cake snacks.
- Drink low-fat milk and buy low-fat cheese, diet yogurt nd use very little margarine, even the low-fat varieties.
- Eat no more than 3 egg yolks a week.
- Bake, boil, steam, microwave or grill foods instead of frying them. Try and manage without the frying pan or deep fat fryer.
- Eat fewer “fast foods” (burgers, fried foods), which are high in fat.
- Eat more fruits, vegetables and carbohydrates (rice, pasta, breads, grains).