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[4 min read] Healthy eating for heart health
How can your patients best maintain their heart health and minimise their risk of cardiovascular disease through healthy eating?
Nutrients acquired through food have been proven to affect the incidence of disease. Unfortunately, the knowledge of how we should eat doesn’t always align with the everyday diets of real populations.
Over the past few decades, the foods we eat (and how we eat them) have dramatically changed. There has been an increase in the availability and consumption of many foods and drinks, including heavily processed foods, and an increase in the promotion of “healthier” versions of these foods by focusing on single nutrients such as “low fat” or “low sugar”. In addition, the diet of Australians is generally poor, with two thirds of Australian adults being overweight or obese.
The Heart Foundation recommends that Australians need to significantly change their current eating patterns to improve their heart health. It states that poor diet is the leading risk factor for deaths and disability in Australia, contributing to an estimated 29,414 deaths (18%) and over 443,300 disability adjusted life years (eight per cent of total DALYS) in 2015.
There is a widespread misconception that most Australians follow a healthy diet, whereas in reality, most adults do not meet the Australian Dietary Guidelines. It is therefore advised that primary care practitioners help their patients with cardiovascular concerns to map out a healthy eating plan which includes:
- Vegetables, fruits and wholegrains
- A variety of protein sources such as fish, lean meat, poultry, legumes, nuts and seeds
- Reduced fat dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese
- Healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados, olives and olive oil for cooking
- Herbs and spices for flavour rather than added salt
- Plenty of water
This style of eating is naturally low in saturated and trans fats, salt and added sugar. It is rich in wholegrains, fibre, antioxidants and unsaturated fats. Eating this way will improve heart health by reducing cardiovascular disease risk factors such as high blood pressure and blood lipids, and decrease the risk of disease events and mortality.
Learn more in the Professional Diploma program in Medical Nutrition Management