Watching what you eat is one of the most important things you can do to prevent heart disease and stroke. What you eat, how much you eat and how often you eat can affect your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Equally, what you eat has a direct effect on your weight. Read our 10 tips for a healthy diet.
Eating less of certain foods (e.g. foods high in saturated fat, salt and sugar) and eating more of the other foods (e.g. high-fibre foods, fruits, vegetables and fish) will help protect your heart and keep your body healthy.
Healthy eating is important for everyone in the family. The key thing is to have a balanced diet with everything in moderation. A Mediterranean style of eating is known to be cardio protective (i.e. protects your heart and blood vessels). A Mediterranean style of eating is based on lots of fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, olive oil, fish, alcohol in moderation, eating with family and friends and reducing stress. Below are some of the main principles of the Mediterranean diet that can be followed for overall health as well as heart health.
10 tips for a healthy diet
- Stick to 3 square meals a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
- Reduce your portion size, especially at dinner. Use a standard 9 inch plate and aim to increase your portion of vegetables to at least half the dinner plate.
- Increase your fruit intake – keep it at work, in the car and in the handbag!
- Limit red meat intake to a maximum of 3 times per week
- Try to increase your fish intake, especially oily fish like salmon, mackerel, trout and sardines
- Choose low fat dairy – limit your cheese intake to a max of two matchstick box sizes per week
- Limit your salt intake – avoid using salt at the table and in cooking
- Avoid adding sugar to your food or drink
- Watch your alcohol intake – aim for two alcohol free days per week
- Always keep hydrated