Cardiovascular Diseases

Eating For a Healthy Heart

Cardiovascular Disease

Is a collective term for the conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels. The most common one is atherosclerosis which is a hardening of th arteries.

Atherosclerosis is the narrowing of the arteries caused by the build up of fatty materials (fats and cholestorol) in the blood vessel walls. This makes the blood vessels less elastic and reduces the blood flow to vital organs. If a blockage occurs, stopping the flow of oxygen containing blood to the organs, a heart attack or stroke can occur.

What you can change

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Cholestorol
  • Being overweight
  • Poor diet
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • insufficient activity
  • Depression, social isolation
  • Excessive alcohol intake

What you can't change

  • Family history of CVD and ethnicity
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Body shape(e.g. apple shape has a higher risk than apple shape)

Your diet can affect your health


Saturated and transfats can increase blood cholestorol levels. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (Omega 3 & Omega 6) fats help lower cholestorol levels. For heart health, reduce saturated fats and substitute with unsaturated fats in your diet.

Healthy heart tips

  • Use margarine from poly and monounsaturated oils instead of butter
  • Remove the fat and skin off chicken and meat, use trim cuts and avoid processed meats
    choose lower fat milk, yoghurt and cheese
  • Keep pastries and biscuits for special occassions only. Include fish in your meals atleast twice a week

Energy Balance

Eating more kilojoules(energy) than you burn through activity leads to weight gain. For heart health, keep your weight in the healthy range by choosing foods low in energy(kilojoules) and high in nutrients.

Healthy heart tips

Eat less foods in fats and sugar and reduce the portion size of your meals - include regular activity but consult your doctor before starting an exercise program.


There is clear evidence linking high salt intake with increased blood pressure. High blood pressure places increased stress on the heart. For heart health, if you have high blood pressure, have your blood pressure monitored regularly and limit the amount of salt that you eat.

Healthy heart tips

  • Don't add salt to cooking and don't put the salt shaker on the table.
  • Improve the flavour of food by using lemon juice, fresh herbs or spices in place of salt.
  • Choose unsalted nuts or unsalted popcorns


Soluble fibre helps maintain healthy blood fat levels by helping reduce cholestorol absorption. For heart health, choose foods with soluble fibre like wholegrain cereals, especially oats and barley, fruits and vegetables such as legumes.

Healthy heart tips

  • Start the day with whole grain cereal, oats or baked beans on wholegrain bread
  • Include legumes to sandwiches or adding mixed beans to salad
  • Relax with a cup of green tea
  • Snack on fruit and at meal times fill half of your plate with vegetables or salad
  • Enjoy dark berries like blueberries and blackberries for a delicious dessert