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eating with Heart – the easy way

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ― Hippocrates

We know we should “eat better” but what does that mean and why is it so difficult? With more than 90% of Australian adults not eating the recommended serves of vegetables every day [Reference 1], is it any wonder that heart disease kills 1 person every 12 minutes [Reference 2]. Diet is among the modifiable risk factors for heart disease, along with exercise and smoking, which means we can change it. Alarmingly, over a third of our daily energy intake comes from what is called ‘discretionary foods’. These are foods such as cakes, chocolate, pies, sausages, lollies and soft drinks. These foods are things we don’t need, but want and perhaps enjoy. There is a place for these foods in our diets, just in smaller amounts.

 

the evolution of heart healthy eating

The Heart Foundation is always updating their heart healthy eating recommendations to reflect advances in scientific knowledge. They use to focus on specific nutrient do’s and don’ts. “You should eat X grams of salt, sugar, saturated and unsaturated fats.” This type of messaging often leads to people restricting and avoiding certain foods because of one type of nutrient. For example, avoiding fruits (and not meeting the daily recommendations) because they have sugar in them. Fruits also have a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and fibre that are vital for health and well-being.

Our focus has now shifted to eating patterns and, in particular, what foods we should be aiming to eat more of, rather than what we should be avoiding. This makes much more sense, since we actually eat foods, not individual nutrients. This also makes beginning and sticking with a heart healthy diet much easier.

 

heart healthy eating pattern

A Heart Healthy Eating Pattern includes, 5 parts:

  1. Plenty of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains
  2. A variety of healthy proteins especially fish, seafood, legumes (like beans, lentils and chickpeas), nuts and seeds. Smaller amounts of eggs and poultry can also be included, and lean red meat should be limited to 1-3 meals per week.
  3. Unflavoured milk, yoghurt and cheese
  4. Healthy fat choices with nuts, seeds, avocados, olives and their oils for cooking
  5. Herbs and spices to flavour foods, instead of adding salt

It really is that simple!! This style of eating is naturally low in saturated and trans fats, salt and added sugar and rich in unsaturated fats (good fats), along with wholegrains, fibre, and antioxidants. Eating this way can help improve the heart health of all Australians by reducing heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, as well as help maintain a healthy weight.

 

practical tips

So how do you actually translate this to something that makes sense? This is where the healthy plate proportions come into play. By planning your meals around these proportions, you can ensure you are, at least roughly, getting the right amounts of each type of food. These proportions are:

  • Fill ½ your plate with vegetables – with a wide variety of colours
  • Fill ¼ of your plate with wholegrains such as wholemeal rice or pasta
  • Fill ¼ of your plate with a healthy protein such as lean chicken, fish, eggs, lean meat or legumes

Also, remember to use healthy fats for cooking and dressing your meals, and add flavour with herbs and spices (rather than salt).

Want to know more?

We are delivering a workshop/webinar on exactly this topic!

Join us on Thursday 18th March at 1pm. The workshop will be held at Murdoch University, Building 513, Room 1.005. It will also be streamed live online via Zoom. Make sure you register here.

Want to know RIGHT NOW how healthy your diet and eating habits are? Take the Health Eating Quiz. This quiz was developed by Profes­sor Clare Collins from the University of Newcas­tle right here in Australia.

 

As always, if you have any further questions and need help with kickstarting your heart healthy journey, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Need help or guidance? Book in for a one-on-one consultation with us to find out what’s best for you and your health.

Can’t get to us? Read our Telehealth Blog to find out if this option suits you better.

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