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Diet is key to preventing and managing heart
disease, which is why it’s so important to get advice from someone
who really knows. Victoria Taylor gets the lowdown from three NHS
“You can trust a dietitian to know about nutrition,” says the
British Dietetic Association. With the variety of food information
that we are bombarded with, this is reassuring.
Nutrition seems to be an area where everyone has an opinion and
we regularly hear from self-styled ‘experts’ who profess to know
which foods to include in your diet but often heavily promote
products and supplements.
One of the problems is anyone can call themselves a
‘nutritionist’. While some will be appropriately qualified and
registered with the UK voluntary register of nutritionists, some
won’t, and it can be difficult to tell the difference. On the other
hand, the title ‘dietitian’ can only be used by people who have
been fully trained.
Dietitians work in a variety of specialisms and settings, from
one-to-one appointments in clinics to hospitals or community
groups. Their common aim is to help people make informed and
practical changes to their diets. We spoke to three dietitans
working in different areas of the NHS.
Read what the
hospital dietitian had to say
Read what the
community dietitian had to say
Read what the
cardiac rehab dietitian had to say
Your doctor may refer you to an NHS dietitian if he or she thinks it necessary. Otherwise, if you want to see a registered dietitian privately, visit dietitiansunlimited.co.uk.
All qualified dietitians must register with the Health Professions Council. To find out whether a whether a dietitian or other health professional is registered and meets Health Professions Council standards, log on to hpcheck.org or call 020 7840 9802.
If you’d like to know more about dietitians and how they can help, visit the British Dietetic Association at bda.uk.com or call 0121 200 8080.
For information on how to follow an everyday healthy eating plan, download or order our free booklet, Eating Well, or order a copy on 0870 600 6566.
Five heart-healthy habits to learn
1. Get your 5-a-day
Make sure you have at least five 80g portions of fruit and
vegetables every day. Use the heart
matters portion checker to see what that looks like. (You may
need to log in first.)
2. Cut the saturated fat
Swap saturated fats like butter,
lard and ghee for unsaturated fats like rapeseed, olive and
sunflower oils and spreads. Remove visible fat and skin from meat
and poultry, and use low-fat milk and dairy products.
3. Slash the salt
Avoid adding salt to your food,
but make sure you check food
labels too. Three-quarters of the salt we eat is already in our
food and there can be quite a variation even in basic items like
bread and cereals.
4. Include more oily fish
Try to have at least one portion of oily fish a week and if
you’ve had a heart attack, aim for
two to three portions. Oily fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which
can help keep your heart healthy and improve survival after a heart
attack if eaten regularly.
5. Watch your portions
Eating healthy, balanced diet should help keep your weight under control, but it’s
important to keep an eye on your portion sizes too. Use a smaller
plate or adjust the proportions so that half of your plate is fruit