Fruit and vegetable rainbow

Everything you need to know about heart health

Expert tips to help maintain heart health

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Everything you need to know about heart health

Around 7.4 million people live with heart disease in the UK, but small changes to our diet and lifestyle can make a big difference – here we've consulted nutritionist, author and Asda columnist Rhiannon Lambert for her top tips… 

Only one in four of us tucks into that all-important 5-a-day, according to figures from the NHS – which means the rest of us are missing out on a health boost in the form of fruit and veg.

why you need your 5-a-day

Fruits and vegetables are good for all aspects of our health, but in particular, they may impact our heart health, both in the short and long term. For example, research shows that individuals whose diets are rich in fruit and veg tend to have lower blood pressure, which reduces the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Fruits and veggies also contain fibre, which can help lower LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol (the kind that furs up your arteries). 

everything you need to know about fat

The type of fats you include in your diet are also important for heart health. Fat used to get a bad press, but not any more! However, it's still best to be prudent about trans fats and saturated fats, as these can increase the amount of LDL cholesterol (and therefore your risk of heart disease).

Trans fats are found in highly processed foods, while dairy and fatty meat contain a lot of saturated fat. Try swapping in more 'good' fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from nuts and avocados. Remember, too, that highly processed food is also often high in salt, which can raise blood pressure. 

don't forget about omega-3

Oily fish is a fantastic source of omega-3, a specific polyunsaturated fat that is thought to benefit heart health, so stock up on mackerel and salmon (most of us in the UK don't eat the recommended two portions of fish per week, one of which should be oily). If you’re vegetarian or vegan, sources of omega-3 include hemp seeds and flaxseeds.

 

What you should eat more – and less – of

Ultimately, a balanced diet is what promotes good heart health. The key is awareness: enjoy everything you eat, but be mindful when choosing, and try to be conscious of the options that are best for your health.

Here's Rhiannon's list of foods to eat more often, and those best enjoyed less frequently

Foods to include regularly  

Fish, including oily fish                                    

Fruits                                 

Vegetables                       

Wholegrains and wholegrain cereals                              

Olive oil   

Pulses and legumes            

Nuts and seeds         

 

Foods to eat only as an occasional treat

Ready meals or fast food

High-sugar foods or snacks

High-salt foods or snacks

Alcohol

High-fat dairy products, e.g. butter

 

Learned something new? Keep an eye out for more great health and nutrition advice to help you make the right healthy choices right here