Healthy food for a healthy heart

Healthy eating is not about dieting and depriving yourself of the foods you love, it means eating the right foods in the right amounts – it’s about being healthy and feeling great! Healthy eating helps you maintain a healthy weight as well as reduce your risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, all of which adds up to a healthier heart and a healthier you.

So, when you get a second chance to get things right, remember there are lots of little changes you can start making right now to help keep your heart healthy – by making small changes, one day at a time you can change your whole life.

Want to eat better but just don’t know where to start? Here are a few simple tips to help you get started:

Fish, avocado, seeds, nuts and healthy oil

More fruit and veggies

Fruit and veggies are a great way to get the fibre, vitamins and minerals your body needs… and they’re not full of calories!

Aim for at least 5 serves of veggies and 2 serves of fruit each day and to maximise all the healthy benefits try ‘eating a rainbow’ of different colours. Eating fresh and raw seasonal produce is the way to go, but canned and frozen can still be nutritious – as long as they’re not processed with too much salt, sugar or fat. Try microwaving, steaming or grilling your veggies and avoid overcooking them so you don’t lose all the lovely nutrients.

With only 1 in 20 Australians eating the recommended number of serves of fruit and veggies, it’s time to start looking at adding a few more serves to your daily menu – try adding a salad at lunch and dinner, or a few berries to your breakfast cereal and have fruit for dessert. You could swap a biscuit for an apple, crunch on some carrots or slurp up some soup – the choices are endless!


More fish and seafood

Fish is a great source of lean protein and oily fish, such as salmon, tuna and sardines, have lots of omega-3 fats – which have beneficial effects on brain function and heart health!

Try and aim for 2-3 serves of fish each week and make at least one of them an oily fish. Most seafood contains omega-3 fats, so that means you can happily add squid, scallops and mussels to your list and canned fish can be equally healthy. You can add tuna to your salad or pasta, steam a piece of salmon or mash your sardines into fishcakes – whatever takes your fancy.


Ditch the Salt

Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure and extra problems for your heart. Most of us don’t realise how much salt we actually eat. We only need about 1 teaspoon of salt a day and we’re consuming a whopping 3 times that amount.

Cutting back on the salt you sprinkle over your meal or add to the pot may be easy, but three- quarters of the salt in our diet is hidden in processed foods. Surprisingly, every day foods such as breakfast cereals and bread can contain high levels of salt, so start reading the labels and choose ‘salt- free’ or ‘low-salt’ versions. Watch out for foods that are cured, smoked, or pickled as these are likely to have a high salt content, as will most fast foods.

Not sure where to start? Try jotting down what you eat each day for a week and you’ll soon have a good idea if you’re eating enough fruit and veggies or too much salt. Then start off with a few small changes, make them part of your everyday routine and you will soon be on your way to a healthier heart – it’s easier than you think!