Foods to keep your heart healthy

heart food
Eat for the health of your heart

Three in 10 of us claim that heart health is our top personal health concern, with a further one in five worrying most over cholesterol. The same survey of 2,000 UK adults reveals that one in three put the heart health of loved ones as their top health worry.

But how many of us still aren't exactly sure what that actually means when it comes to diet? What we eat has a significant role to play in heart health, but switching to a low cholesterol spread isn't the only step you can take to reduce your risk of heart problems.

Eat for a healthy heart: try this lemon chicken parcels recipe

The survey results released by HGCA, the cereals and oilseeds division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, for National Heart Month, suggest that many of us are unaware that foods like oats, oily fish, rapeseed oil and even fruit and vegetables can help prevent conditions like heart disease.

For example, of those questioned:

  • Only one in five knew that rapeseed oil could help maintain a healthy heart and lower cholesterol
  • 66% didn’t know white fish could also help maintain a healthy heart
  • 65% didn’t recognise that rapeseed oil was lower in saturated fat than other vegetable oils
  • 54% didn’t know porridge oats help lower cholesterol
  • 46% didn’t know oily fish could help maintain a healthy heart
  • Some three-quarters of those questioned diodn't know that apples or carrots have a part to play in maintaining a healthy heart

How to cut your heart attack risk

Registered Dietitian Therese Coleman says, 'Eating to keep the heart healthy is something we should be doing all our lives, not just when we reach middle age – and it shouldn’t be difficult to do.

'Studies show that people who follow a healthy diet and lifestyle throughout their lives tend to have healthier hearts, but this survey shows consumers are not always aware of which foods to choose.

'Oats, for example, are nutritious wholegrains that contain the soluble fibre beta-glucan which has been shown to help lower cholesterol.

Find out why oats are a true superfood

'Simple changes like reducing our fat intake and replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fats like rapeseed oil, lowering our salt intake, and increasing fibre rich wholegrains such as oats, can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.'

Cutting down on saturated fat tops experts’ advice for eating for a healthy heart, so make sure you check the nutritional information of the food you buy to ensure it doesn't put you at risk. Eating too much salt can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease, so try to cut down and use herbs for extra flavour where necessary.

Look for more information and healthy heart recipes at allaboutoats.com and rapeseedoilbenefits.com, and visit our recipe channel for loads of healthy eating recipes