This month is National Heart Month! This public health awareness campaign helps to raise awareness of the UK’s biggest killer – cardiovascular disease.
Risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease include: smoking, drinking, high blood pressure, stress, sedentary lifestyles and poor diets.
A healthy diet can help to reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease; we have included some tips below to help with a balanced diet:
- Ensure food is in its most natural state
- Try to eat a variety of foods, of a range of different colours
- Limit intake of sugary foods
- Choose healthier fats and oils
- Include at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables into your diet daily
- Include wholegrains, legumes, pulses, nuts and seeds into the diet on a daily basis
Here are some further helpful tips taken from the British Heart Foundation website (http://www.bhf.org.uk/), to help support a balanced diet:
A balanced diet
The best way to understand it is to think of foods in food groups.
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 protein
- only a small amount of foods and drinks high in fats and/or sugar.
Choose options that are lower in fat, salt and sugar whenever you can.
Fruit and vegetables
A well-balanced diet should include at least 5 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 make sure you choose the right type of fats.
So to help keep your heart healthy:
- Replace saturated fats with small amounts of mono and polyunsaturated fats
- 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 small amounts.
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, sunflower seeds and oily fish) are a healthier choice.
Another type of fat, known as trans fat, can also raise the amount of cholesterol in the blood.
Want to cook healthily?
Our exclusive Heart Healthy everyday British cookbook contains tasty recipes for food lovers that are guaranteed to inspire a well-balanced diet.