reviewed by Prof. Demosthenes Panagiotakos, August 2021
Mediterranean-type of diet
- Advise people to consume a Mediterranean-type diet [1-3]. This is a cardio-protective eating plan based on all the classic foods and beverages that were consumed in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea in the 1960s.
- The Mediterranean-type of diet is high in unsaturated fats (e.g. olive oil, nuts, seeds), low in saturated fats (e.g. red meat, full fat dairy) and overall contains more fresh than processed food items (e.g. fruit, vegetables, whole grains).
Dietary Fat & Cholesterol
- Saturated fat (e.g. found in red-meat, cheese, full fat dairy) increases the total and LDL-cholesterol, a major CVD risk factor .
- Trans-fat (e.g. found in fried and baked goods) increases the total and LDL- cholesterol, as well as lowering the beneficial HDL cholesterol.
- Changing the type of fat in our diet (replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats) may reduce the risk of CVD . Unsaturated fats are found in olive oil, nuts, seeds and oily fish.
- Eating foods that naturally contain cholesterol (e.g. eggs, shellfish, organ meats) have less impact on blood cholesterol levels than eating foods that are high in saturated fat.
- Dietary fibre (e.g. found in fruit, vegetables, legumes, wholegrain foods) helps to reduce the risk of CVD . It regulates the blood sugar levels and helps to lower total and LDL cholesterol levels.
- Excess salt is associated with increased blood pressure levels. The recommended intake is less than 5 g of salt per day.
- A small reduction in salt intake of 1 g per day can lead to a significant reduction in blood pressure .
Soft Drinks & Alcoholic Drinks
- Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened soft drinks is associated with excess weight, the metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, all of which are risk factors for CVD.
- Excess alcohol intake is associated with increased blood pressure and body weight, major risk factors for CVD.
- Functional foods containing sterols/stanols can be used to lower LDL cholesterol levels by 10% on average, when taken in the correct daily dose (2 g/day) .
- Do not recommend nutritional supplementation (such as omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidant or folic acid supplements) to reduce the risk of CVD .
|Tips for a Heart Healthy Diet|
|Replace saturated fat with unsaturated fat||
|Reduce intake of trans-fats||
|Increase fibre intake||
|Reduce salt intake||
|Limit alcohol intake||