Healthy Eating - Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help to:

  • prevent the narrowing of the arteries around the heart
  • improve blood circulation
  • reduce blood clots forming
  • reduce blood pressure
  • reduce blood cholesterol levels
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • reduce the risk of other diseases such as diabetes

Balanced diet - A balanced diet consists of a variety of foods, in the right proportions and of the right portion size for your requirements; a diet high in fruit, vegetables and starchy foods but low in saturated fat, salt and sugar.

One third of your daily intake should be plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, a minimum of 5 portions a day. One third is starchy foods such as wholegrain bread and cereals, rice, pasta and potatoes. The remaining third being proteins (fish, chicken, lean meat and vegetarian alternatives) and dairy produce (milk, yoghurt and cheese) choosing low fat versions where possible.

Foods that are high in saturated fat or sugar such as chips, sugary drinks, cakes, biscuits, crisps and sweets should be eaten in small quantities and only form a small part of your food intake. Eating healthily does not mean giving up these foods completely but they should be kept to a minimum, perhaps as an occasional treat.

Portion control - Eating the right quantity of food is very important for weight control. Eating more calories than your body uses results in weight gain as the excess energy is converted to fat. The amount of calories required will vary from person to person and is affected by age and activity levels. Estimated average daily calorie requirements are 2550 calories for an adult man and 1940 for a woman.

Fats – Reducing the quantity of saturated fat in your diet will help to reduce your blood cholesterol levels. Aim to replace saturated fats (butter, cream, animal fat) with healthier fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as olive oil, nuts and seeds). Choose low fat versions of milk, cheese and yoghurts, and reduce your intake of foods containing trans fats (hydrogenated vegetable oil) which are found in some processed foods, cakes, biscuits and some margarines. Eating oily fish regularly is a good source of the healthy fat, omega-3, which can help protect your heart. Try to avoid eating fried foods on a regular basis.

Salt – Reducing your salt intake will help to reduce blood pressure. An adult should have no more than 1 teaspoon of salt per day. Unfortunately, a high proportion of our daily salt intake is hidden in our food. Always read the labels when you buy processed foods. Some can contain unexpected levels of salt, sugar or fat. Avoid adding salt to your food at the table and do not use salt when cooking.

Alcohol – Keep your alcohol intake to a moderate level. Alcohol can cause weight gain and can damage the heart. Maximum levels of consumption are 3-4 units for men and 2-3 units daily for women. The number of units per glass varies on your choice of alcohol but most pub servings are around 2 units per glass.

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