Prospect Hill Retirement Village

Take heart – an update on eating for a healthy heart

Posted by Karen Inge | Healthy Eating | No Comments

Interested in the latest on healthy eating to tackle the leading cause of death and disability in Australia – cardiovascular disease?  There’s so much information around about eating for a healthy heart that you may feel you’ve got it covered.  However, a recent survey by the Heart Foundation showed that confusion still reigns when it comes to nutrition messages.

How’s our heart health IQ?

The Heart Foundation recently released a report that found too few Australian adults recognize the lifestyle factors contributing to cardiovascular disease. When asked what can increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease:

* Seven out of ten people did not identify being overweight as a contributor
* More than one in three people did not identify poor eating habits as a contributor
* Almost half of the respondents did not identify lack of exercise as a contributor

It seems that as well as tapping into the latest and greatest research, Australians need reminding of some heart health basics.

For good heart health the Heart Foundation recommends that you enjoy healthy eating, be physically active every day, be smoke free and achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

Back to basics

Healthy eating for a healthy heart means:

1. Choose healthier fats

To minimise the risk of coronary heart disease saturated fat should contribute no more that 8% of total energy intake, however the report showed that this level is still around 13% in the Australian diet.

Top tips:

* Choose margarine spreads instead of butter. Try plant sterol enriched spreads like Logicol to help lower cholesterol absorption.
* Have oily fish such as salmon and sardines at least twice per week for an omega-3 boost.
* Select lean meats and remove visible fat and skin from chicken
* Use a variety of oils for cooking – good choices include canola, sunflower, olive, soybean and peanut.
* Try to limit high fat, high salt takeaway foods and unhealthy snack foods to once per week.

2. Go easy on high salt foods

It is estimated that a reduction of 2.9 grams of salt per day in a whole western population would reduce deaths from stroke by 22% and from heart disease by 16%.

Top tips:

* Go easy on cured meats, salamis, sausages, commercial sauces and many takeaway foods.
* Watch out for high salt snack foods like potato crisps and savoury biscuits
* Check labels for salt or sodium levels.
* Try not to add salt at the table or when cooking.

3. Eat more wholegrains, vegetables, fruit and nuts

It is estimated that inadequate consumption of fruits and vegetables was responsible for around 3% of Australia’s total disease burden. Fruits and vegetables, along with wholegrain/wholemeal breads and cereals, provide important nutrients, high levels of dietary fibre and phytochemicals or antioxidants.

As well as being a good source of fibre and healthy oils, nuts also contain phytochemicals.  Compelling new research has shown definite advantage to heart health of being a regular nut nibbler.  Major epidemiological studies show that eating a serve of nuts five or more times a week can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by half.

Top tips:

* Fill up on vegetables everyday and include grain based foods at least once per day.
* Enjoy oats at breakfast for the benefits of cholesterol lowering beta-glucan.
* Snack on fruit and a variety of plain unsalted nuts, or crudites and low fat yoghourt.

You might like to try these healthy heart recipes below or visit my website for more tips on healthy eating

Salmon with pea mash

Bircher muesli

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