You might already be aware that eating a healthy diet is good for reducing your risk of heart disease but did you also know that it can help even if you already had heart disease? For example, eating the right diet can:

  • Help lower your blood pressure
  • Help reduce your cholesterol
  • Help lower your stroke risk
  • Help you control your weight
  • Help reduce the risk of other conditions such as diabetes1

A heart healthy2 diet should be:

  • Be high in starches, but low in sugars and refined carbohydrates
  • Be high in vegetables
  • Contain moderate amounts of fruit
  • Contain small amounts of good fats in the right balance
  • Keep you well hydrated
  • Contain moderate amounts of healthy proteins, including fish, nuts and dairy products
  • Be low in salt, alcohol and caffeine
  • Contain plenty of fresh and unprocessed foods

We covered these principles in more detail in our last blog, which you can access here.

There are also examples of some specific foods that evidence has shown are particularly ‘heart healthy’, so aim to start getting some of these into your diet if you are at risk of heart disease or already have a heart condition.

Notes:
Those on statins should avoid grapefruit
Those on warfarin should seek the advice of their healthcare team if they are planning to adjust their intake of vitamin K containing fruit and vegetables, which include: asparagus, green beans, blackberries, blueberries, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, chicory, collard greens, cranberry juice, kale, kiwi fruit, lettuce, mung beans, mustard greens, pine nuts, raisins, sugar snap peas, soybeans, spinich, swiss chard, watercress, peas.

References:
1. British Heart Foundation, Healthy Eating http://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/prevention/healthy-eating.aspx. Accessed April 2014
2. BDA Food Factsheet – Heart Health. Jan 2014.
3. NHS – Lower your cholesterol http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Healthyhearts/Pages/Cholesterol.aspx Accessed 24/4/14
4. Serum and dietary magnesium and incidence of atrial fibrillation in whites and in African Americans–Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. Misialek JR et al. Circ J. 2013;77(2):323-9.
5. Phytosterols: another way to reduce LDL cholesterol levels. Bitzur R et al. Harefuah. 2013 Dec;152(12):729-31, 751.