3 things to include in your diet and 3 things to reduce for a healthy heart

As part of celebrating dietitians week 2021, our dietitians have shared some top tips on how to reduce your risk of heart disease and lower your cholesterol:

Three things to increase:

Most fish, especially oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna, contain high levels of omega-3 which studies suggest can lower the risk of heart attacks.

It is best to take in omega-3 from food sources as there isn’t enough evidence that omega-3 -supplements benefit healthy adults and children. 

Wholefoods are a good source of fibre and other nutrients that play an important role in regulating blood pressure and heart health.

Some examples of wholefoods are: wholemeal bread, bran and wholegrain cereals, fruit and vegetables, potatoes with their skins, oats and barley, pulses such as beans, peas and lentils.

Unsaturated fat tends to raise the level of HDL (‘good’) cholesterol in the blood. HDL cholesterol brings cholesterol to your liver, which sends it out of your body, so you want as much HDL as possible. Examples of unsaturated fats are avocados, nuts, seeds, flaxseed, sunflower, rapeseed and olive oil.

Three things to reduce:

Eating foods that contain saturated fats raises the level of cholesterol in your blood. High levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in your blood increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Examples of foods high in saturated fats, are solid fats such as butter and margarine and lard, or skin on chicken, cream, cheeses, cakes and biscuits.

Too much salt can cause raised blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.  It is recommended to reduce your salt intake to no more than 1,500 milligrams a day (about half a teaspoon).

Processed foods are higher in ingredients such as salt, sugar and fat to make the flavour more appealing and extend their shelf life. Cooking meals from scratch and bulk freezing your own meals can be an excellent way to reduce your overall intake of processed foods. .

If you would like some more information on nutrition and cardiovascular health, the dietitians at Cromwell Hospital will be able to support you by providing detailed advice tailored to your needs. We offer both virtual and  in-person appointments.

Find out more about the Dietetic service at Cromwell Hospital and how they can support you >

Further reading