healthy diet can help reduce your risk of developing coronary
heart disease and stop you gaining weight - reducing your risk
of diabetes and high blood pressure.
It can also help lower your cholesterol levels
and reduce your risk of some cancers.
Even if you already have a heart condition, a healthy
diet can benefit your heart.
Six secrets to diet success
Our dietitian Victoria Taylor reveals her top tips for
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A balanced diet
best way to understand it is to think of foods in food groups.
Everyone should aim for a well balanced
diet. Faddy crash diets may not
provide the balance of nutrients you need.
Try to eat:
- plenty of fruit and vegetables
- plenty of starchy foods such as bread, rice, potatoes and
pasta. Choose wholegrain varieties wherever possible
- some milk and dairy products
- some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of
- only a small amount of foods and drinks high in fats and/or
Choose options that are lower in fat, salt and sugar whenever
Fruit and vegetables
A well-balanced diet should include at least
portions of fruit and veg a day. Try to vary the types of fruit
and veg you eat. They can be fresh, frozen, dried or
tinned. Pure unsweetened fruit juice, pulses and beans count
as a portion, but they only make up a maximum of one of
your five a day, however much you eat in one day.
A portion is about a handful (80g or 3oz), for example:
- 4 broccoli florets
- 1 pear
- 3 heaped tablespoons of carrots
- 7-8 strawberries
Sign up to our free service Heart
Matters where you can access our portion
finder to find out what makes up a portion of other
fruits and vegetables.
To help look after your heart health it is important to
keep an eye on how much fat you are eating as well as making
sure you choose the right type of fats.
So to help keep your heart healthy:
- Cut right down on saturated
- Replace saturated fats with small amounts
of mono and
- Reduce the overall amount of fat you eat
- Cut down on foods containing trans fats.
It's also important to remember that all fats and oils are high
in calories, so even the unsaturated fats should only be used in
Too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which can
increase the risk of developing coronary
Unsaturated fats, which can be monounsaturated fats
(for example olive oil, rapeseed oil, almonds,
unsalted cashews and avocado) or polyunsaturated fats
(including sunflower oil and vegetable oil, walnuts
and sunflower seeds), are a healthier choice.
Omega-3 fats are a particular type of polyunsaturated fat,
usually found in oily fish, that can help protect heart
health. Try to have at least one portion of oily fish a week eg.
fresh tuna, fresh or tinned salmon, sardines, pilchards and
mackeral. If you have had a heart attack, aim for two to three
portions a week.
Another type of fat, known as trans
fat, can also raise the amount of cholesterol in the
Eating too much salt can
increase the risk of developing high blood pressure. Having high blood
pressure increases the risk of developing coronary heart
Want to cook healthily?
Heart Healthy everyday British cookbook contains tasty
recipes for food lovers that are guaranteed to inspire a
If you drink alcohol, it's
important to keep within the recommended guidelines - whether you drink
every day, once or twice a week or just occasionally.