Healthy eating

Britain has one of the highest incidences of heart disease in Europe. This is principally due to our diet. If you want to protect your heart and reduce the risk of other illnesses, some fairly simple changes to your diet could be of significant benefit.

Healthy eating means different things to different people, but the basic principles are simple.

  • Reduce the overall amount of fat, particularly that derived from animal sources.
  • Increase the amount of fruit and vegetables that you eat every day.
  • Increase the amount of complex carbohydrates, such as pasta and potatoes. Eat wholemeal bread rather than white or brown bread. Wholemeal cereals such as Weetabix, Shredded Wheat, Puffed Wheat or muesli are a very good start to the day. Breakfast is an important meal as it improves your levels of energy and cognitive functioning in the morning. People who go without have been shown to work less efficiently.
  • Rely more on chicken and fish as sources of protein because these meats are lower in fat. Interestingly, if you increase the amount of oily fish that you eat, you will be helping your heart even more as the oils contained in fish such as mackerel, herring and salmon have been shown to reduce the incidence of heart disease.
  • Limit the amount of dairy produce, particularly eggs and cheese as these foods are high in cholesterol. Use semi-skimmed or skimmed rather than full cream milk. Skimmed milk has a higher percentage of calcium.
  • Try to consume 5 different portions of fruit and vegetables every day (not including potatoes). You can include fresh fruit drinks as a portion and frozen vegetables are acceptable if you canít manage to get fresh vegetables every day.
Vegetarians often assume that their diet is healthy because they are vegetarian, but in fact some can rely too heavily on dairy produce. It is important to eat a variety of pulses as a source of protein; remember that nuts are also very high in fat.

Really easy healthy foods, which are cheap and simple are jacket potatoes with coleslaw, baked beans or prawns. Wholemeal pasta with a tomato or vegetable sauce (tomatoes are currently thought to be extremely good for you). Stir fry chicken with vegetables and noodles. Wholemeal bread sandwiches with a low-fat filling, like cottage cheese or tuna with salad.

Handy healthy snacks can be obtained from dried fruits, apricots in particular.

Remember to drink plenty and try to include some water instead of relying too heavily on caffeine containing drinks. Fizzy drinks are awful for your teeth unless confined to mealtimes! Keep your alcohol intake to sensible limits and try not to smoke!

If by any chance you are thinking of having a baby, take some folic acid, available from chemists and give up alcohol and cigarettes.

Further information


This article published on
04 December 2005

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