Six Basic Steps to a Healthier Heart

Melanie Thomassian

Did you know that following a healthy diet and keeping physically active could help to reduce your risk of developing heart disease? Making healthy changes to your lifestyle can also increase your chances of survival following a heart attack.

However, you may be wondering what a healthy diet for heart disease is. First and foremost, healthy eating is about getting the balance right. This doesn't have to mean cutting out all of what you enjoy, but it does mean eating foods in proportions that will improve your health long-term.

Here are a few basics of a ‘heart healthy' diet:

1. Fruits and Vegetables

It has been estimated that eating at least five portions of fruits and vegetables each day could reduce the risk of death from chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer by up to 20%. To receive maximum benefit from the wonderful nutrients contained in fruits and vegetables, choose from a variety of different produce each day, rather than sticking with the same options.


2. Starchy Carbohydrates

Eating whole grains is thought to reduce the risk of developing heart disease and can also help to lower blood cholesterol levels. Around one third of our meals should be based on carbohydrate, with roughly one half of these grains being whole. Opt for wholegrain bread, wholemeal pasta, and wholegrain rice wherever possible.


3. Oily fish

Regular intake of omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, and to improve our chances of survival following a heart attack. The omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish are thought to help the heart beat more regularly, reduce triglyceride levels, and prevent blood clots from forming in the coronary arteries. Aim to have two portions of fish per week (a portion is about 3.5 oz). One portion should be white fish, and one portion should be oily fish. Examples of oily fish include trout, salmon, herring, mackerel, or fresh tuna.


4. Fats 

Our bodies do require some fat for normal functioning, however most people eat far more than what is required. Reducing the total amount of saturated fat we eat can help to reduce our blood cholesterol levels.

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