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Healthy Eating & Your Heart


Healthy eating & your heart

Eat less sugar

Sugar contains lots of calories but no other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals or fibre. Eating too much sugar can also cause tooth decay. Try to cut down on sweets, soft drinks, biscuits, and cakes and don't add sugar to drinks and foods.

Eat more fibre

Foods that are rich in fibre will fill you up without giving too many calories. Fibre is found in foods like cereals (wholemeal bread, rice, pasta) pulses (baked beans, peas, and kidney beans), vegetables, fruits and nuts.

Cereal foods should be the main source of food energy in the diet, and should be replacing fat as a source of calories.

Fibre rich foods may also have beneficial effects on blood cholesterol levels, help to prevent constipation and protect against bowel problems, including bowel cancer.

Drink Moderately

Follow the Government guidelines on safe alcohol intakes. Women should have no more than 14 units a week and men should not exceed 21 units a week.

One unit is equal to one glass of wine, half a pint of cider or beer, or one measure of spirits.

Eat less salt

High blood pressure is common in countries where the diet contains a lot of salt. The exact effect of salt on blood pressure is controversial.

A diet that is low in salt and rich in potassium (found in fruit and vegetables) has been found to reduce blood pressure. Table and cooking salt only account for only a quarter of the salt eaten in the UK. The rest comes from manufactured food such as crisps, salted fish and processed foods. Try to reduce the amount of manufactured foods that you eat.

Watch the fats in your diet

It is particularly important to cut down on saturated fats and to replace them with smaller amounts of unsaturated fat in the diet. Saturated fats are found in meat (red meat, suet, lard, dripping, meat pies), whole fat dairy products (milk, cheese, butter), cakes and biscuits. Eating too much saturated fat encourages the body to make too much blood cholesterol which then circulates in the blood. The blood cholesterol sticks in the artery walls and causes them to "fur up". This increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease.

Polyunsaturated fats are found in seed and nut oils (such as sunflower, corn, or walnut), in nuts and whole grains, and in oily fish such as herring and mackerel. Oily fish are a particularly rich source of omega-3 polyunsaturates. You should aim to eat at least one portion of oily fish each week.

Polyunsaturated fats are essential for the growth and maintenance of the brain and nerves, and can also help to lower blood cholesterol.

Mono-unsaturated fats have no effect on blood cholesterol and this makes them an ideal replacement for saturated fats in the diet. Olive oil is rich in mono-unsaturated fat.

Remember to cut down on the total amount of fat you eat and when you do eat fats, choose only poly or mono-unsaturated fats.

Watch out for cholesterol

Your blood cholesterol level is affected by the amount of saturated fat in your diet, and can also be affected by large amounts of cholesterol in your diet. Egg yolks and offal are quite rich in cholesterol so it's bets not to eat large quantities of these foods too often.

Healthy eating and your heart

Healthy eating is important for general good health, and preventing coronary heart disease. The average diet in the UK has been improving, and we are eating more fruit and vegetables and less fat.

However, we still need to eat less saturated fat, sugar, and salt, even more fibre, fruits and vegetables.

Healthier eating means

Eating more: Bread, pasta and rice (particularly wholemeal), potatoes, vegetables, fruit, beans and fish.

Eating less: Whole-fat dairy products, salt, sugar, cakes, biscuits and sweets.

Using: Skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, low fat or polyunsaturated-rich margarine and spreads, lean meat, poultry and fish and water and juice.

Instead of: Whole -fat milk, butter or hard margarine, fatty meats and meat products and fizzy drinks.

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