. Healthy eating for the heart refers to balance, moderation and portion control

. Look to limit salt, fats and sugar

. Fruit and vegetables should be heavily incorporated into your diet

Balance is the key to developing a diet that doesn’t put your health in long-term jeopardy and specifically your heart in this regard. No matter what approach you take, what diet you choose, as long you adhere to the basic principles of balance, moderation and portion control you will be on the right track.

Now let’s move to the specifics. The first point we will address is portion control. Only eat what you have to eat and try and resist the temptation to splurge because that’s what pushes everything out of whack. Two of the key benefits of portion control are the balance and control you achieve in regards to your weight and sugar levels which is important in regards to your long term health.

The most dangerous scenarios are obviously high blood pressure, diabetes and potential heart disease. By exercising disciplined portion control you can limit your exposure to these potentially harmful and deadly ailments. High blood pressure can come about through multiple forces such as stress, smoking and a lack of physical activity, but it can also be caused by your diet. There is a strong correlation between excessive salt as well as certain fats and sugar.

By cutting these items out of your diet, or at the very least limiting them and taking them in moderation, you can minimise the risk of high blood pressure. In regards to diabetes, obviously we all have to be careful with our sugar intake, especially in relation to soft drinks and things of that nature.

The next point to consider in regards to healthy eating for the heart is what to actually put on your plate. Try and make a concerted effort to limit your consumption of fats, oils, sugar and salt and where possible look to incorporate a healthy serving of fruit and veg, grain and certain fish such as tuna and salmon.

In terms of energy, two key sources are protein and wholegrain. You can source protein from lean meat and eggs as well as fish and poultry and wholegrain that is high in fibre such as oatmeal, brown rice and bran are also a valuable source of energy. It’s good to incorporate these types of food items into your regular diet because they help to keep your weight in check while still giving you ample energy and that’s a good combination to have.

The other food group that you really have to be diligent about perusing is obviously fruit and vegetables when it comes to the heart and healthy eating, which is sometimes easier said than done, even though we all know it’s a staple and almost mandatory for our long-term health. According to the AIHW, between 2007/8 and 2017/8 approximately 50 per cent of Australians did not meet the fruit recommendations and almost 95 per cent did not meet the guidelines associated with vegetable intake.

7.3 per cent of the total burden of disease in Australia was attributed to poor diet and 1.4 per cent was attributed to a diet low in fruit, so it stands to reason that we all need to be vigilant about our food choices. According to the Australian dietary guidelines, one should make a concerted effort to source items from the five key food groups which means plenty of fruit and vegetables, wholegrain, cereal, bread and high fibre items such as rice and pasta.

The guidelines also recommend servings of lean meats, poultry, fish and eggs and dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese. It also recommends drinking lots of water. The recommendation is that we seek a wide variety of food to achieve a balanced diet, not always in one day but certainly over the course of a week.

As stated in the guidelines: ‘No single food can provide all the nutrients in the amounts needed for good health’ which is why it’s important to expand our boundaries, challenge ourself and actively go looking for those nutrients in a variety of different places. The evidence for consuming a wide variety of foods as summarised in the guidelines suggests that a ‘higher quality diet is associated with reduced morbidity’ and that ‘diversity in food intake can reduce an individual’s exposure to any one group of toxicants.’

But it also goes on to say that Australians as a general rule eat from a wide variety of cuisines which should supply the ‘nutritional needs of the population but appropriate choices must be made to ensure that all nutritional requirements are met.’ So again, discretion, common sense and balance are the key takeaways in terms of achieving a sustainable, long term dietary plan that achieves health and prosperity over the long haul.


AIHW stats


Australian dietary guidelines pages 32-33