Balance your food intake with physical activity – the more active you are, the more food you need. Keep an eye on your meal portion size, if you are less active choose smaller serving sizes and add plenty of vegetables, salad and fruit.
- Include a carbohydrate food (bread, rice, pasta, potato, or cereal) at each meal. Choose high fibre options whenever you can (see following section for suggestions).
- Aim for five servings of fruits & vegetables each day. These are packed with important nutrients to help you stay healthy. Remember these can be fresh, frozen, tinned, or dried. Colour is important – have a mixture of different coloured fruits and vegetables each day such as apples, oranges, bananas, spinach, cabbage, carrots, sweet potato, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, sweet corn.
- Protein foods help to make new cells and keep your muscles healthy. Stay fit and strong by eating a variety of protein-rich foods each day. Great sources include lean meat, poultry and fish. Salmon, sardines, trout, fresh tuna and kippers are packed with heart-healthy omega 3 fats. Eating beans, eggs and nuts is a simple way of boosting the protein in your diet.
- Keep your bones healthy by having three servings of low-fat dairy foods (milk, yoghurt, or cheese) each day. Dairy foods with added calcium and vitamin D are even better. Look out for these in the supermarket as fortified foods.
- Choose heart-healthy fats. We all need some fat in the diet but it is a case of choosing the right type:
û Saturated fat or animal fat can raise your cholesterol level, which can in turn increase the risk of heart disease. Saturated fat is found in butter, hard margarine, lard, cream, cream based sauces, fat on meat, skin on chicken, and processed meats like sausages, burgers, black and white pudding, meat pies and pate. It is also found in biscuits, cakes, chocolate, toffees, takeaway foods, foods covered in batter and breadcrumbs as well as milk, cheese and yoghurt.
û Trans fat or hydrogenated vegetable fat also raises cholesterol levels. Trans fat is found in hard margarine, cakes, biscuits and confectionery. It may be listed as hydrogenated fat on food labels and should be avoided.
ü Monounsaturated fat – aim to replace saturated fat with monounsaturated fat to help protect your heart as it helps lower cholesterol level. Monounsaturated fat is found in olive oil, peanut oil and rapeseed oil, unsalted peanuts, cashew nuts and almonds.
ü Polyunsaturated fat can also help to reduce cholesterol levels. Polyunsaturated fat is found in oily fish (omega-3 fat), sunflower oil (omega-6 fat), sesame oil, flaxseed oil, walnuts and hazelnuts.
Remember all types of fats and oils contain the same amount of fat and calories. They can lead to weight gain if used to excess!
7. Use less salt. Too much salt in the diet can contribute to high blood pressure, which in turn can lead to stroke or heart disease.You can reduce the amount of salt in your diet by: