About heart health
There are many small alterations we can make to our diet in order to benefit our heart health and whole body. The information below covers general healthy eating and tips more specific to heart health.
Mono and poly unsaturated fats
These fats should be incorporated as part of a healthy diet. They actually have health benefits for your heart! Good sources include:
- Nuts and seeds
- Fatty fish e.g. salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna
- Olive, canola, sunflower, soybean and peanut oil
Remember that these items are high in energy so if eaten in large quantities, they can encourage weight gain. Moderate amounts each day is the key e.g. 30g of nuts.
A note on saturated fat
There has been a significant amount of discussion surrounding saturated fat and whether it is in fact unhealthy for us and our hearts. One important point to come out of these discussions is that when reducing saturated fat intake, we should substitute for mono and poly unsaturated fats. Removing the saturated fat but replacing it with low fat starches and refined sugars won’t benefit your heart either.
Grains also have their place in heart heath. Incorporate a variety of wholegrain products in to your diet e.g. wholegrain bread and porridge. Oats are particularly good as they help to lower LDL cholesterol (bad) and raise HDL cholesterol (good).
Choose fat reduced varieties of dairy foods/ dairy substitutes and aim to meet your recommended serves each day – dairy is important in meeting your calcium requirements and most of us do not get enough. Fat reduced dairy options are recommended because they contain less saturated fat than full cream products. Full cream dairy products are not technically high in saturated fat but when consumed on a daily basis, it can add up and contribute more significantly to our total dietary intake. This is why light versions are recommended. Additionally, fat reduced versions contain fewer kilojoules/calories which will also make a big difference when it comes to weight loss or weight maintenance (particularly if you eat your daily recommended serves).
Meat, seafood, lentils, nuts and eggs are all good sources of protein and can be included in a heart healthy diet. There are however some good tips that we should all follow:
- Avoid high fat meats like deli meat, sausage, duck, marbled meats and offal like kidney / liver
- Trim off all visible fat from meat
- Use cooking methods that require less oil e.g. steaming, roasting, baking, grilling
- Eat fish twice per week
- Try having a meat free day each week and focus on plant sources of protein
- Remove skin from chicken
- Avoid crackling
- Try not to exceed 6 eggs per week
It is also important not to greatly over eat meat. This will increase our intake of saturated fat and can encourage weight gain. The recommended daily serves are illustrated below.
Vegetables are great for heart health and overall health! Try and reach your 5 serves per day and ensure you get lots of variety and colour.
Get your 2 pieces a day. Fruit is another very important part of a healthy diet – the more variety the better. They provide you with fibre, minerals and vitamins. Additionally, they are low in sodium, fat and energy.
For more heart related information, see my blogs on ‘healthy eating to manage cholesterol’ and ‘different types of fat’. The images above were taken from the: Eat For Health ‘Healthy Eating For Adults’ brochure. More information can be found from the following links:
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian Belinda Elwin who is a Dietitians Association of Australia member and Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist. If you have questions about heart health or other nutrition related issues, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.