Heart Health & Nutrition
A 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.
We recognise this may be a worrying time for lots of people and we know that people tend turn to food as a way of coping with stress or other emotions. This is common, but when you’re feeling down it’s even more important to fuel your body and mind with nutritious, feel-good food. This isn’t always the easiest or most attractive option, but it will make you feel much better in the long run.
A balanced diet
Everyone should aim for a well balanced diet. Faddy crash diets may not provide the balance of nutrients you need.
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.
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
3 heaped tablespoons of carrots
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.
Too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which can increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease
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
Saturated fat guidelines
At the moment some guidelines encourage us to swap saturated fats for unsaturated fats. We think more research is needed before suggesting any major changes to healthy eating guidance.
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.