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Diet & Nutrition - Heartbeat Trust

DIET & NUTRITION (Including recipes)

Healthy Eating

Healthy eating is first about getting the correct amount of nutrients; carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals that you need to maintain good health.

Healthy eating helps us to feel good, look our best, and stay at a healthy weight. Eating healthy foods can also reduce your cholesterol level and reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Good weight management is also about recognising what nutrients your body needs and taking control and responsibility on your over or under consumption of calories. It is not a “fad diet”, designed to encourage weight loss at a rapid rate. The best way to manage weight is to make choices that give slow and steady progress towards your goal and eventually your ideal weight.

What Causes Heart Failure?

There are many causes of heart failure and these are explained below. Some people may experience more than one. For example, a patient with high blood pressure may also have coronary heart disease.

To help your ‘good’ cholesterol
  1. Eat two portions of oily fish-salmon, herring, mackerel or sardines twice a week
  2. Have an oat based cereal in the morning, such as, porridge or muesli (with a low salt and sugar content)
  3. Regular exercise
To reduce your ‘bad’ cholesterol avoid foods containing saturated fats
  1. Use low fat milk, low fat spreads and cheeses
  2. Grill or bake the food rather than frying it
  3. Avoid the fat of the chicken, fat of the pork chops and the rind of the rashers
  4. Watch your intake of cakes, biscuits, scones and pastries
Sample of daily eating plan
Breakfast Oat based cereals, porridge or unsweetened muesli with low fat milk or yogurt
Mid-morning 1 piece of fruit
Lunch 2 slices brown bread with salad and your protein:
oily fish
lean meat
low fat cheese
Mid-afternoon 1 piece of fruit
Dinner 2 medium sized potatoes or ¼ plate wholemeal pasta or brown rice, ½ plate of vegetables, fish, chicken or lean red meat
Avoid eating after 6.30pm
Sample of daily eating plan
  • Aim for a well-balanced healthy eating plan that you like and can maintain for life
  • Aim for 5 portions of fruit/vegetables per day: Space the fruit out regularly during the day
  • Watch out for sugary foods:
    • Cakes, chocolates, biscuits, sweets
    • Have a treat only 1-2 times per week
  • Avoid sugary drinks:
    • Flavoured water drinks often contain too much sugar
    • You can use fizzy water if you prefer
  • Little and often of the right foods
  • Avoid fad diets
  • Avoid adding salt when cooking or at the table:
    • In general there is enough salt in fresh food already
    • Use pepper, herbs or spices instead of marketed “salt substitutes”
  • Watch out for the hidden calories in sauces and salad dressings
  • Avoid processed foods, ready-made meals and “take aways”
  • Always look at the food labels for sugar and salt content

Even reducing the portion size and eating slowly can make a big difference to your calorie intake. The diagram below gives you a practical tip, which can help, start by using a smaller plate!

Salt/Sodium Intake

Salt/sodium intake can affect your blood pressure. If there is too much salt/sodium it increases the amount of water in your vessels. This in turn increases the amount of blood to be pumped around the body and therefore the heart has to work harder. This can result in high blood pressure, which over time can lead to stress/strain of the heart muscle.

A guide for looking at food labels
High salt content >1.5g per 100g
Medium salt content 0.3-1.5g per 100g
Low salt content <0.3g per 100g

Sugar Intake

The maximum sugar an adult should take is 6 teaspoons sugar per day or in other words a maximum of <25grams/day (World Health Organisation 2015). This is not only what goes into your tea and coffee, but includes the hidden sugars foods and drinks. If you are unsure, it is worth taking time to read the food labels and noting down the total sugar in the foods you consume daily.

Be SUGAR aware!
  1. Watch the sugar/glucose content in all foods and drinks
  2. Choose ‘no added sugar’ foods
  3. Avoid sugary drinks
How to calculate salt content?
Sodium figure x 2.5 = Amount salt in food
1g sodium = 2.5 grams of salt
Be SALT aware!
  1. Watch the salt and sodium content in all foods particularly processed foods
  2. Choose ‘no salt added’ foods
  3. Avoid adding salt to food when cooking and at the table
  4. Use pepper, herbs, or spices instead
  5. Drain and rinse canned vegetables and beans
  6. Avoid ‘pickled’, ‘brined’, ‘barbecued’, ‘cured’, ‘smoked’, ‘soy sauce laden’ foods

how to prevent heart Failure?

Lifestyle Guidance

 Your lifestyle and “heart healthy” behaviour is the cornerstone of prevention of cardiovascular disease. Research has shown that a heart healthy lifestyle can be challenging, but that the benefits are worthwhile.

The main goals in a heart healthy lifestyle are:

1. Weight management
2. Healthy eating
3. Exercise and physical activity
4. Stopping smoking
5. Low alcohol consumption
6. Taking your medications as prescribed
7. Dealing with stress

Weight Management

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a score of your weight in relation to yourheight. When calculated it groups you into one of the following:

Category BMI (kg/m2)
Underweight 16.0 to 18.4
Normal (healthy weight) 18.5 to 24.9
Overweight 25.0 to 29.9
Obese Class Over 30.0

Healthy Waist Measurement

Less than 80cm

or 32 inches

Waist Size: If you are overweight and the extra weight is stored around your middle and not evenly distributed over your body, studies have shown you are more at risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

The main goal in weight management is to take a long term approach and make heart healthy choices in food, exercise and alcohol. So in simple terms, if you reduce the number of calories you take in using a healthy, balanced diet and increase the number of calories you put out by developing and sticking to your physical activity plan you will notice gradual weight loss, feel happier and have more energy in a matter of weeks.

Aiming for BMI less than 25?

Tips on how to keep your weight down

1. Be conscious of what you eat and drink (reduce or avoid alcohol)

2. Exercise each day

3. Weigh yourself weekly and aim to lose a pound a week:

  • When you get up in the morning, go to toilet, stand on scales and take note of your weight
  • Repeat this one week later and if you have not lost 1 pound it shows that you are either eating and/or drinking too much and/or not doing enough exercise

Patient Testimonials

Some words from our patients:

“It is indeed so very reassuring to know that we have excellent doctors such as Prof McDonald and his team working on our behalf.’

“As a spouse of a stroke survivor, tonight talks made me more aware of the actions I need to take for my own health as well as that of my husbands.”

“I find the process reassuring and the people involved in STOPHF very kind and helpful”

“I feel secure in the knowledge that I am being monitored. Beneficial in having ongoing advice etc.”

“Because of the thoroughness of the annual checks I was kept aware of my medical condition”

“While on the research programme it was discovered I had too much hormone. Then I was sent to the Endocrinology team in SVUH for many tests. I was diagnosed to have a growth in my pituitary and acromegaly. I had surgery in Beaumont Hospital to remove the growth. I am so grateful to the Heartbeat Trust for finding this and sending me to have it researched and treated.

“Lovely people. Great work over many years which will clearly help our nation. Thank you for your information”