Eat plenty of the good stuff every day like vegetables and fruit, lentils and beans, low-fat dairy, wholegrain starches and lean protein foods. Eat fewer foods with added sugars, salt and fat - choose products with the Heart Mark to help make this easier. Lastly enjoy your food, but eat less if you are overweight.
A healthy lifestyle helps to prevent and control chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Healthy eating is one of the most important things you can do for a healthier life. Remember that you need to exercise regularly and avoid smoking. The following tips will help you and your family to eat healthily.
1. Enjoy a variety of foods. Eating different types of food gives your body all the nutrients it needs. The more colourful your plate of food, the wider the variety.
See an example of a healthy plate here
2. Make high-fibre starchy foods part of most meals. These foods can help you feel fuller for longer and lower your risk of developing obesity, heart disease and cancer. Good examples are brown or wholewheat bread, coarse maize (mealie) meal, oats and brown rice.
3. Chicken, fish, meat or eggs can be eaten every day. Choose lean or lower fat options with less bad (saturated) fats. Bad fats can increase your cholesterol and block your blood vessels, which can lead to a stroke or heart attack. Try to include tinned or fresh fish as part of your diet at least twice a week. Good examples are pilchards, snoek, sardines or tuna.
Why are fish so good for heart health? Read more here: http://www.heartfoundation.co.za/topical-articles/fish-too-beneficial-go-without
4. Try to have low-fat milk, maas or yoghurt every day. Dairy products are an excellent source of calcium. This can help protect your bones and help prevent high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. Good options are low-fat or fat-free dairy products and reduced-fat cheeses. Having two portions (500ml of low fat dairy) every day can help to decrease your blood pressure and help reach and maintain a healthy weight!
5. Eat dried beans, split peas, lentils or soya at least twice a week. They are a good source of protein, low in fat and high in fibre. You can replace meat in some meals with these foods.
6. Try to eat 5 vegetables and fruit every day. Remember to eat vegetables and fruit from the different colour groups (red, green, yellow and orange). The vitamins, minerals and fibre in these foods help to protect you against chronic diseases.
For more information about vegetables, read http://www.heartfoundation.co.za/topical-articles/vegetables-%E2%80%93-more-matters
7. Eat less salt and avoid foods high in salt. Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of stroke, heart attack and cancer. Some salt in your diet comes from salt added at the table or during cooking, but more than half of the salt that you eat comes from processed foods. Examples are stock cubes, soup powders, salty snacks like chips and processed meats like polony. Ideally, you shouldn’t have more than 1 teaspoon of salt a day from all sources. Gradually cut down on adding salt to your food and soon you won’t notice the difference.
Read more salty tips to reduce salt in your diet here:http://www.heartfoundation.co.za/topical-articles/wise-about-salt
8. Use fat sparingly; choose vegetable oils rather than hard fats. Eating too much fat and fried food can make you gain weight and increase your cholesterol. Limit the amount of fatty red meat, butter, hard margarine, cream, lard and ghee that you use. Rather use good (unsaturated) fats like vegetable oils and soft tub margarine in small amounts. Nuts, seeds, peanut butter and avocados are also sources of good fats.
Read more about the ongoing debate around which is better – butter or margarine. http://www.heartfoundation.co.za/topical-articles/butter-or-margarine%E2%80%A6-which-better
9. Eat less sugar and avoid food or drinks high in sugar. Too much sugar can make you gain weight, which increases your risk of chronic diseases. Sugar in your diet comes from sugar added to hot drinks, cereals and cooking. High amounts of sugar are also found in cakes, biscuits, doughnuts, sweets, chocolates and sweetened cold drinks.
10. Drink plenty of clean, safe water every day. You need about 6-8 glasses of water a day. Most of this should come from tap water, but can include drinks like tea, coffee or diluted fruit juice as well.
11. If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. Women should not have more than 1 drink a day and men not more than 2 drinks a day. One drink is equal to a can of beer (340 ml) or a small glass of wine (120 ml) or a tot of spirits (25 ml). Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not drink any alcohol at all, as it is very dangerous for the baby.
Ten heart smart foods. http://www.heartfoundation.co.za/topical-articles/top-10-heart-smart-foods-0
Not sure where to start when looking for a healthier product at the supermarket? Here are some helpful tips on how to read food labels: http://www.heartfoundation.co.za/topical-articles/reading-labels-handy-guide
Don’t believe the myth that healthy eating has to be expensive! http://www.heartfoundation.co.za/topical-articles/healthy-eating-budget
What to believe when it comes to low carbohydrate-high protein diets? http://www.heartfoundation.co.za/topical-articles/highs-and-lows-low-carbohydrate-high-protein-diets
Try these pointers for stocking a heart-healthy kitchen. http://www.heartfoundation.co.za/topical-articles/five-ways-stock-heart-healthy-kitchen
Worried about sticking to your healthy eating habits when dining out? Have a look at these seven golden rules for eating out the heart-healthy way. http://www.heartfoundation.co.za/topical-articles/eating-out-heart-healthy-way-seven-golden-rules
What makes a satisfying and healthy snack? http://www.heartfoundation.co.za/topical-articles/better-snacking
Need some heart-healthy recipes for family meals? http://www.heartfoundation.co.za/recipes
For more individualised advice, contact the Heart and Stroke Health Line. Call 0860 1 HEART (0860 1 43278) or email firstname.lastname@example.org