A good diet is key for a healthy heart, so here are some ways you can make the right food choices:
Moderate Your Sodium Intake
Sauces, canned and processed foods contain a high content of sodium so a minimal amount of these products should be consumed.
- Taste your food first before adding salt or sauces. If necessary, do so sparingly.
- Avoid salted and preserved food, such as ikan bilis (dried anchovies), salted eggs, luncheon meat, sausages and ham.
- Ask for less gravy or sauce when eating out.
- Spice up your dishes with garlic, onion, ginger, vinegar, lemon juice, mint leaves, black pepper or coriander instead of seasonings containing sodium.
Get Your Fat Balance Right
To reduce your blood cholesterol level, it is important to reduce the total fat intake from your diet. However, there are different types of fats in our food and not all fats are the same.
- Saturated fat — this is high-cholesterol fat, mainly found as animal fat or in full-fat dairy products and food prepared with palm oil, coconut oil and coconut milk.
- Trans fat — this, too, is high-cholesterol fat, mainly found in commercial deep-fried food, baked products, and fast food.
- Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — these are healthier fats, which are mainly found in vegetable oils (e.g. olive oil and canola oil), nuts, seeds, and oily fish.
Tips to reduce your total fat intake:
- Use less oil when cooking, and remove all visible fat before eating.
- Instead of deep-frying food, select healthier cooking methods such as steaming, boiling, and grilling.
- Choose lean meat or poultry without skin.
- Limit deep-fried foods to one or two times a week.
- Choose fat-free or lower-fat food products, such as low-fat milk and fat-free yoghurt.
- Go for healthier cooking oils with polyunsaturated fat (e.g. corn, soybean) or monounsaturated fat (e.g. olive, canola).
Moderate Cholesterol Intake with a Low-Cholesterol Diet
Avoid Excessive Alcohol Intake
Excessive alcohol consumption is related to increased blood triglycerides level, high blood pressure, stroke, increased body weight, liver problem, abnormal heart rhythms, and some cancers.
Some studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption might produce some benefits among heart failure patients; however the results are inconclusive. Therefore, given the possible health risks associated with drinking, it is recommended that people who do not consume any alcohol should not start drinking.
Consult your dietitian or doctor on the benefits and risks of consuming alcohol in moderation.
Increase Fibre Intake
Whole grains, fruits and vegetables which are high in fibre are known to be beneficial in lowering blood pressure.
- Choose whole meal or multigrain bread over white bread.
- Choose fruit or vegetables, instead of salty snack foods.
- Aim for two servings of fruits and two servings of vegetables a day.
Control Fluid Intake
Symptoms of heart failure may be controlled by restricting your daily fluid intake. Check with your doctors if there is a need for fluid restriction and the recommended amount of your daily fluid intake. Sources of fluid include plain water and any type of beverage, soup, fruit, porridge etc.
Sources of Further Information
- Dietitian — to find a dietitian in Tan Tock Seng Hospital, call 6357 8322 for an appointment. It is recommended that you consult a dietitian for an evaluation of your current eating habits and an assessment of your specific dietary needs for your health conditions. Individualised advice and a personalised nutrition plan, such as a cholesterol diet plan, can be developed to meet your nutritional needs.
- Your doctor — you will need to obtain a referral from your doctor for a consultation with a dietician.
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This article is contributed by Autumn and first appeared here. All information is correct as at the date of publication on 4/12/2022.