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2:42 AM 24th May 2020
lifestyle

Heart Research UK Healthy Tip - A Heart Healthy Diet

Over seven million people in the UK are living with heart or circulatory disease. By eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of physical activity, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, you can reduce your risk of heart disease.

A healthy diet can improve your blood pressure and cholesterol as well as helping you to manage your weight. Heart Research UK have some tips to help you reduce your risk of heart disease by improving your diet.

Increase your fibre intake

A diet that is high in fibre can reduce your risk of heart disease. Good sources of fibre include fruit and vegetables, beans and pulses and wholegrain foods, such as granary bread, brown rice and wholemeal pasta. Try choosing a wholegrain breakfast cereal, such as muesli, porridge or bran flakes and add some chopped fruit or berries.

Choose healthier fats and oils

Fats and oils are high in calories and it is important not to consume too much. Different types of fat are present in foods. Saturated and trans fats can increase your cholesterol and your risk of heart disease. It is recommended that saturated and trans fats are swapped for small amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Saturated fats

Eating too much can increase your cholesterol and your risk of heart disease.

Examples include:

Fatty meats
Hard cheeses
Butter
Cream
Coconut oil

Polyunsaturated fats

Small amounts are recommended for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and providing essential fatty acids.

Examples:

Oily fish (e.g. salmon)
Walnuts
Seeds (e.g. flaxseeds and sesame seeds)

Salmon
Salmon
Trans fats

Eating too much can increase your cholesterol and your risk of heart disease.

Examples:

Hard margarines
Fried food
Biscuits and cakes

Monounsaturated fats

Small amounts are recommended for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.

Examples:

Rapeseed oil
Olives and olive oil
Nuts
Avocados

If you eat meat, you could swap fatty meats for fish and lean meats, such as chicken (without skin), as well as cutting away visible fat from fatty meats, such as bacon.
Coconut oil is often promoted as a health food, however, it is high in saturated fat and can increase your cholesterol. If you currently cook with coconut oil, you could try switching to rapeseed oil.

Avocados
Avocados
Reduce your salt consumption

Too much salt in your diet can increase your blood pressure and your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

Try swapping snacks that are high in salt, such as crisps and salted nuts, for healthier snacks, such as fruit, carrot sticks and hummus, popcorn and unsalted nuts and seeds.

Read the food labels to identify snacks that are lower in salt. Try to cut back on the amount of salt used in cooking gradually over time and increase the amount of herbs and spices to add more flavour.

Examples of some heart healthy recipes can be found at heartresearch.org.uk/recipes

Dr Helen Flaherty
Dr Helen Flaherty
Heart Research UK Healthy Heart Tip, written by Dr Helen Flaherty, Head of Health Promotion at Heart Research UK