The good news is, looking at your food choices can have a huge impact and help you make those first steps to reduce your risk.
Eating better isn’t just about watching calories, it’s about making sure you are eating the right type of foods and in the right portion sizes.
What should I eat?
The eatwell guide shows how much of what we eat should come from each food group to a healthy, balanced diet.
Try to get the eatwell balance right over a day or week, it doesn’t need to be at every meal.
Eat better for a Healthy Heart
Heart Research UK believe that for a Heart Healthy diet, it’s all about getting the right balance. Eat the right foods in the right amounts by following our Eat Better Plate.
Eat less sugar and fat
Foods like crisps, chocolate, ice cream and pastries contain sugars and fats that your body doesn’t need. Eat these less often and in small amounts.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
Go for reduced fat, sugar-free drinks and have 6-8 glasses each day.
Fruit and vegetables
- We should all aim to eat 5 portions of fruit and veg each day. Fresh, frozen, tinned – they all count
- Aim for 2 portions of fruit and 3 portions of veg to make up your 5 a day
- Over 1/3 of our food each day should be a combination of fruit and veg
- Try high in fibre options such as brown rice, wholewheat bread or simply leave the skin on your potatoes
- 1/3 of our food each day should be a combination of starchy foods
Oils and spreads
- Unsaturated fats are better, try rapeseed oil or olive oil
- All types of spreads and oils are high in calories and are still fats. Eat them in small amounts
• Milk, cheese and yoghurt are all great sources of protein and calcium which makes our bones strong
• Give lower fat products a go – semi skimmed or skimmed milk, lower fat yoghurts
- Low in fat and packed with fibre, pulses, chick peas, lentils and beans offer a healthy alternative to meat
- Introduce fish twice a week and include at least one good source of Omega-3 such as pilchards, mackerel and salmon
- It’s best to limit the amount of red and processed meat such as minced beef and sausages, so swap for white meat, keep it fresh and trim the fat
• Even when you make a healthier choice, over eating will increase the calories, fat and sugar which you eat which can lead to putting on weight
• Check manufacturer’s food labels to see how many portions they state is in a pack or you could eat far more calories than you think
Check the traffic light for the amounts of fat, sugar and salt.
Look out for foods that have front of pack traffic light labelling – this can help you make a healthier choice at a quick glance. Go for more greens and ambers than reds.
Understanding Food Labels
When you are in the supermarket, understanding the labelling on food will really help you to make healthier choices.
So what do the traffic light labels mean?
The traffic light system is only a voluntary system at the moment but we are seeing it more and more on packaging and is really helpful to find out how healthy something is. It gives calories and whether the item is green, amber or red in fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt. The information also tells you the Reference Intake (RI) of the item – what percentage of your daily reference intake the item is.
Here are some examples of traffic light labels and how you might use them…
Red shows you at a glance that the food you are thinking of buying is high in fat, saturated fat, sugars or salt. These foods are fine to eat occasionally, just be mindful of portion sizes and try to eat them less often
Amber foods need a little caution when choosing. If the label is amber for fat but contains oily fish or amber for sugars but contains a lot of fruit, it may be a Heart Healthy choice. It’s best to check for hidden fats and sugars on the ingredients list
Green gives you the head’s up that the food you are thinking of buying is a healthier choice. Try to choose these most often and if there are a mixture of colours on the label go for more greens