Heart Disease & Diet

Atherosclerosis is a disease of the arteries, characterised by accumulation of fatty plaques (atheromas) along their inner walls. Arteries deliver blood all around the body and the less fatty plaques within them, the better they can do their job. Narrowing of our arteries occurs when the fatty plaques build up, which can happen especially if a person has high cholesterol, high blood pressure or smokes. Narrow arteries have less space for the blood to flow through them....sometimes completely blocking them which can lead to heart attacks, stroke, angina or peripheral arterial disease.

Thankfully, key dietary tweaks can make a big difference to tackling atherosclerosis. Below are two that have been shown to have significantly positive influence of reducing atherosclerosis.

Switch up the fats

1. Try to limit saturated fats and trans fats, which tend to be more solid at room temperature and found in processed foods.

Examples are; cheese, butter, ghee, cream, lard, visible fat on meat, coconut oil, palm oil, pastries, biscuits and cakes.

2. Aim to increase monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats.

Examples are; olive oil, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, nuts, avocados and oily fish.

How?

  • Choose lean cuts of meats, removing any visible excess fats and remove the skin on any poultry meat.

  • Try to boil, steam, bake, grill or poach foods to reduce the total fat content of your meal

  • Read food labels to ensure that you are choosing products with less fat. You are aiming for more green on the label for fat; less red and yellow.

Steady with the salt

Most of our salt allowance is already within the food….especially once you hear that 6g per day is the maximum recommended total amount per day = 1 teaspoon!

How?

  • If cooking with salt, try not to add more at the table.Remove it off the table top!

  • Add other flavours instead; pepper, chilli, lime, lemon, herbs or garlic.

  • Reduce processed food intake, ready meals and takeaways.

More useful information on diet and heart health can be found at the British Heart Foundation.
Healthy eating - reduce your risk of developing heart disease (bhf.org.uk)

Let us know if you make any changes following reading this or any great tips that you can share.