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​​​​​A healthy diet is one of the strategies to manage your heart health. Below are some tips you can follow to ensure a heart-healthy diet that's full of heart-saving foods.

1. Eat a variety of heart-healthy foods from all food groups and follow their recommended serving size. 

Below are some tips on what you can go for from each group:​

  • ​Wholegrains: Choose brown rice, red rice, wholemeal or wholegrain bread, wholemeal noodles or chapatti.
  • Lean meats/fish/poultry/seafood: Choose skinless poultry or lean meats
  • Nuts, seeds and legumes: Choose non-fried, unsalted nuts or dried legumes as snacks or add them into your dishes.  o Fruits and vegetables: Eat a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables across the colours of a rainbow
  • Dairy: Choose unsweetened, low salt and low fat / skimmed options for milk, yogurt and dairy products such as cheese to include in your diet

2.​ Adopt a low salt diet (Refer to the Low Salt handout - handout is missing)

3. Boost your fibre intake

Eating more fibre can help to reduce your cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart diseases. Increase intake of fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, whole grain and legumes. ​Aim to consume at least half of your total grain intake as wholegrains, with two servings of fruits and vegetables each daily.

4. Choose food higher in u​nsaturated fat and go easy with food that is high in saturated fat and trans fat

  • Choose nuts or avocadoes (higher in monounsaturated fats). Aim for a handful of nuts (40g) a few times a week
  • Choose cooking oils higher in unsaturated fat (such as sunflower, canola, olive and peanut oil) to replace cooking oils higher in saturated fat (such as coconut and palm oil)
  • Choose oily fish that are high in omega 3 (such as mackerel, salmon, sardine, kembung and patin) at least twice a week
  • Choose spreads with higher unsaturated fat content (such as olive oil or canola oil soft margarine)
  • Choose lean meats: Trim visible fats and skin from meat
  • Avoid using animal fat (such as lard or ghee/butter/duck fat/tallow) in cooking 
  • Replace red meat with beans, peas, lentils or tofu
  • Replace coconut milk with low-fat/non-fat milk or ”light” coconut milk (it's lower in saturated fat content)
  • Replace flavoured rice (such as nasi lemak or chicken rice) with white or brown rice
  • Limit deep fried foods (such as you tiao, curry puffs and banana fritters), processed meats (such as bacon, sausages, ham, cured meat, luncheon meat and bakwa), coconut oil, coconut milk, butter, cream, 3-in-1 beverages, creamer;  mayonnaise, cream-based salad dressings, heavy sauces or gravies. 
  • Limit foods high in trans fats, such as potato chips, doughnuts, pastries, cakes, cookies, frozen pizza and frozen fried food
  • Check ingredient lists for ‘partially hydrogenated fats’ or ’vegetable shortening’, which are sources of trans fats

5. Go easy on sweetened drinks and foods

Excessive simple sugar intake may increase triglyceride level and weight gain. Examples include soft drinks, fruit juices, white and brown sugar, syrup, honey, sweets and candies, and desserts such as cakes and brownies.

6. Include plant sterols in your daily diet

You can usually get plant sterols from fortified food, such as milk. Your recommended intake of plant sterols intake is 2g a day. Aim for two to three servings of milk with plant sterols to achieve 2g a day.

7. Take alcohol in moderation

Excessive alcohol intake may raise triglyceride level and excessive calorie intake from alcohol may contribute to weight gain. You're recommended to have no more than two standard drinks for men and no more than one standard drink for women.

8. Quit smoking and exercise regularly

Besides healthy e​ating, a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of getting heart disease. Smoking may increase risk of heart disease, raise blood pressure and reduce your HDL (“good”) cholesterol level. Regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise, can help to reduce blood pressure and improve your HDL (“good”) cholesterol level.

If necessary, do consult your doctor or physiotherapist before starting any exercise plan, especially if you have just undergone a medical procedure. If you have just undergone a medical procedure, check with doctor or physiotherapist on the appropriate exercise recommendations.

- Article contributed Nutrition & Dietetics, Allied Health Services -

Lifestyle & Wellness; Food & Nutrition

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