Healthy Eating For A Healthy Heart
Did you know a healthy diet is one of the most important ways you can reduce your risk of developing a heart disease? Our Dietitians at Be Fit Food have put together some tips on how to eat a heart healthy diet!
We advocate for a plant-based diet, our meals and programs follow the Mediterranean pattern of eating whilst incorporating the CSIRO low carbohydrate principles. There are no ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods which is why we aim to follow dietary patterns. We advocate for a well-balanced, plant-based diet which includes lots of low starch vegetables, lean protein, legumes, grains, seeds, nuts, fish, seafood and moderate amounts of dairy.
Each food contains nutrients, and some foods are more nutrient dense than others. When we are looking at heart health, there has been scientific links between nutrients and our health. For example, a diet with excess saturated fat and salt has been linked to poorer outcomes for heart health. Whereas a plant-based diet high in fibre has been shown to have protective benefits against heart disease and certain cancers.
Avoid a diet high in saturated fat
Saturated fat is found mainly in animal products. Eating a diet high in saturated fat can raise the bad cholesterol in your blood, known as LDL. An increase in this bad cholesterol can increase your risk of narrowed and blocked arteries.
Food to minimise:
- Untrimmed meat including lamb, pork, fatty beef, processed meats
- Chicken with skin
- Full fat dairy
- Fried food and baked foods I.e., cakes, pastries, muffins
- Coconut and palm oil products - oil, cream and milk
Lean meat sources provide us with variety of essential nutrients such as protein, iron and zinc. However, the western diet has large intakes of red meat which can be detrimental to your health. The recommendations from the heart foundation encourages Australians to limit their meat intake to less than 350g per week and to choose lean sources. Lean meat sources include lean beef, kangaroo and trimmed/lean veal, pork and lamb.
The latest research has shown little evidence on the need to restrict full fat diary for the general population, however, if you are at risk of or have high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes or heart disease sticking with low fat dairy is advised.
Increase good fats in your diet
Similar to the Mediterranean pattern of eating, which includes lots of healthy fats such as omega–3 fats, omega-6 fats and monounsaturated fats.
Food to include in your diet:
- Oily fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines three times per week
- Olive oil
Reduce salt intake
Western diets are full of processed and refined convenience foods to cater for our busy and fast paced lifestyles. The issues with processed foods and refined carbohydrates are that they add salt to your diet and reduce other beneficial nutrients such as fibre. Salt can have detrimental effects on heart health by increasing blood pressure and therefore increasing the risk for poor cardiovascular health outcomes such as stroke.
Foods to limit:
- Processed deli meat – ham, salami, chorizo
- Sauces and stocks – soy sauce, canned tomatoes
- Packaged snack foods – chips, biscuits, crackers
- Takeaway foods
Increase fibre intake
A plant-based diet, high in fibre is best for lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease. It is well researched that having 2 serves of fruit and over 5 serves of vegetables per day can be protective against heart disease and some cancers. High fibre foods include fruit, vegetables, bran (oat, barley, wheat), rolled oats, legumes, wholegrain breads and cereals and psyllium husk. There are different types of fibre, soluble fibre can help to lower cholesterol absorption.
Soluble fibre source include:
- Psyllium husk
- Lentils and legumes
- Vegetable and fruit flesh