Proper Eating

 Good nutrition and good health or a sense of well-being go hand in hand. In fact, the old saying "You are what you eat" may be more true than we ever realized -- especially when it comes to heart disease (for example, angina or heart attack).

Several factors are known to increase your risk for the development and progression of heart disease. These are called risk factors. Risk factors are either nonmodifiable (cannot be changed) or modifiable (can be changed).

Thus, men are more likely than women to get heart disease at any given age. The risk of getting heart disease increases as we get older (above age 45 years in men and above age 55 years in women), and your risk for developing heart disease is greater if one or more of your blood relatives has had a problem with heart disease.

These factors help define your basic likelihood for developing heart disease.

Modifiable risk factors are related to lifestyle or personal habits. They can be divided into primary and secondary risk factors.

Primary risk factors play a major role in the development and progression of coronary artery disease. Secondary risk factors affect the development of this disease and have an additive effect on the primary risk factors.

Primary risk factors include:

The more of these risk factors you have and the longer they have been present, the greater risk you have for the development and progression of coronary artery disease.

Take a good look at the foods you eat. You may need to make some changes to help reduce risk factors and improve your overall health.  

Seven rules for healthy eating

Eating a healthy diet takes common sense and the knowledge of seven simple rules. These rules give you the basics for a nutritious, heart-minded eating plan.

  1. Eat a variety of foods

  2. Choose foods low in cholesterol and fat

  3. Reduce sodium in your diet

  4. Maintain a desirable weight

  5. Follow a regular exercise program

  6. Cut back on sugar

  7. Eat more foods high in starch and fiber


Eat a variety of foods
Foods vary in the amount and type of nutrients they contain. So, when planning meals, it is important that you select foods from each of the major food groups.

The major food groups include:

(These food groups will be discussed in more detail later.)

Choose foods low in cholesterol and fat
Cholesterol is a fatty substance made by your body and found in some foods. It is the main ingredient of the fatty deposits that are found in the coronary arteries when coronary artery disease develops. The higher the cholesterol level in your blood, the greater the chance that this disease will develop and progress quickly. If you have coronary artery disease, it is important to be aware of your cholesterol levels.

To help lower cholesterol and fat:

Cut back on foods high in cholesterol.
These foods include meat, whole-milk dairy products, egg yolks, and butter.

Look at the type and amount of fat in your diet.
Fats also affect blood cholesterol levels. Two main types of fat are found in the foods we eat. They are saturated and unsaturated fats.

Saturated fats -- These fats raise blood cholesterol levels. Saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature and are found in animal and some vegetable products (examples are meat, egg yolks, cocoa butter, butter, ice cream, coconut oil, and palm oil).

Watch for products that contain the word "hydrogenated" on the package label. Hydrogenation is a process used to harden liquid vegetable oils from a good unsaturated fat to a bad saturated fat. Eating foods that have hydrogenated fats as part of the ingredients can raise cholesterol levels.


Unsaturated fats -- These fats do not have as great an effect on raising blood cholesterol levels. They are generally liquid at room temperature (an oil) and come from vegetable or plant sources. They may be used in limited amounts.

There are two types of unsaturated fats: polyunsaturated fats (corn, sunflower, cottonseed, sesame, and soybean oils) and monounsaturated fats (olive, canola, and peanut oils).


Reduce sodium in your diet
You may be eating much more sodium than you need. Eating too much sodium may cause you to retain fluids in your body and increase your blood pressure. Cutting down on sodium means:

         Reduce your use of table and seasoning salts. As a tasty substitute, try combinations of herbs and spices. Check with your physician or dietitian before using any commercial salt substitutes.

         Use fewer processed foods. Sodium is not only used to add flavor, it is also used to preserve food. In fact, as a rule, the more processed (further from its natural state) a food is, the higher the sodium content. Examples of processed foods are prepackaged convenience foods, such as canned and instant soups, canned meats, frozen dinners, and "quick cook" boxed mixes for potatoes, rice, or pasta.

Maintain a desirable weight
Your body takes in calories when you eat and uses calories when you are active. If more calories are consumed (eaten) than spent, the excess is stored mainly as fat. Even if you take in just a few too many calories over a long time, it can lead to a gradual increase in weight. The more you weigh, the harder your heart must work to carry and nourish the excess weight. To lose weight, you need to take in fewer calories than you use.

         Look at your present eating habits. Identify one or two areas that can be improved. It is better to start slowly than to try to change your whole eating pattern overnight.

         Cut down on foods high in cholesterol and saturated fats. These foods are high in calories. Eating fewer of these foods can help you make major strides in maintaining a lower-calorie, healthful diet.

         Beware of fad diets. Weight losses of more than one or two pounds a week can do more harm than good. Many people try these quick-loss diets only to find that, in spite of all of their efforts, they gain the weight back quickly once they return to their old eating habits.

         Weight management should be permanent and gradual. Set realistic short- and long-term goals for yourself. It may be difficult at first, but just remember that your weight loss is well worth it in terms of improving your health and general well-being.

         If you need assistance in planning or maintaining a weight-loss program, talk to your doctor or dietitian.


Follow a regular exercise program
Your heart is a muscle. Just like the muscles of your arms and legs, it needs regular exercise to make it strong and work its best. To get good results, exercise must be:

         Regular -- at least three times per week

         Aerobic -- involve the large muscle groups and be repetitive (such as walking, swimming, rowing)

         Safe -- ask your doctor what type and amount of exercise is right for you, before you begin an exercise program

In a short time, you may feel and see the benefits of a regular exercise program. These include a positive effect on cholesterol levels, weight management, diabetes control, and stress management.

Cut back on sugar
Eating too much sugar and sweets can lead to tooth decay and weight gain. Choose foods that add more nutritional value to your overall diet. These include choices from the major food groups


Eat more foods high in starch and fiber

Starchy foods are also known as complex carbohydrates. These foods are great sources of energy and nutrients. Most starches are found in the grains and cereals food group.

Certain foods -- such as whole grains, brans, fruits, and vegetables -- are rich in fiber. A high-fiber diet may help to reduce blood cholesterol and regulate bowel function.


Adult guide to proper eating

Making healthy food choices can be both easy and fun. All you have to do is select those foods listed under CHOOSE and cut down on those foods listed under LIMIT. These listings have been separated according to the major food groups in order to make it easier for you to look up particular foods.


Meat group

Supplies: Protein, iron, niacin (B3), and thiamine (B1)

Choose: Skinless chicken and turkey. Lean cuts of beef, veal, lamb, pork, and ham (no more than three servings per week). Egg whites or egg substitutes. All freshwater fish and ocean seafood. Natural peanut butter (1 Tbs = 1 serving or 1 oz of meat).

Limit: Duck and goose. Fatty meats, organ meats, and meats that have been deep fried. Egg yolks (no more than three per week). Processed meats, like most frankfurters, cold cuts, and sausage (unless special low-fat brands-less than 3 g of fat/oz). Cashews and macadamia nuts.

Milk group

Supplies: Calcium, riboflavin (B2), and protein

Choose: Low-fat or fat-free milk products, such as low-fat or fat-free milk, cottage cheese, and yogurt.

Limit: Whole milk products, such as regular milk, chocolate milk, eggnog, ice cream, and most cheeses. Creams, including sour cream, cream cheese, and coffee cream.

Grain and cereal group

Supplies: Carbohydrates, thiamine, iron, niacin, and fiber (in whole-grain products)

Choose: Whole-grain or enriched breads, rolls, and cereals. Pasta, rice, barley, and potatoes. Dried beans and legumes.

Limit: Egg-rich breads, butter-crust breads. Commercially baked products. Granola, stuffing mixes.

Fruit and vegetable group

Supplies: Vitamins A and C, fiber

Choose: Any fresh, frozen, or dried fruit. Fruit juices or vegetables not listed under LIMIT.

Limit: Deep-fried, breaded, or creamed vegetables. Processed or canned fruits and vegetables. Coconut.

Fat and oil group

Supplies: Fat-soluble vitamins A and E

Choose: Margarines (when the first ingredient listed is a liquid vegetable oil). Unsaturated liquid vegetable oils, like safflower, sunflower, corn, sesame, soybean, cottonseed, olive, canola, and peanut. Salad dressings made with any of the acceptable oils listed.

Limit: Saturated fats, such as butter, shortening, and lard. Margarines, when the first ingredient listed is a hydrogenated oil. Coconut, palm, and palm-kernel oils, as well as products made with these oils. Salad dressings made with cream, whole milk, butter milk, sour cream, or high-fat yogurt. Cashews and macadamia nuts.

Snacks and desserts

Supplies: Calories

Choose: Fruit-flavored gelatin. Hard candy, jam, jelly, and honey. Homemade dessert products prepared with ingredients found in the CHOOSE section. Plain popcorn. Fat-free frozen desserts and fat-free baked goods.

Limit: Chocolate. Fried snack foods, like potato chips and corn chips. Most commercially baked dessert products and commercial microwave popcorn.


As you can see, there are many types of foods you can choose from.
Remember to include a variety of foods in your daily meal plan.



The following information will help remind you to plan healthy and enjoyable meals. 


Eat Plenty

Eat Occasionally

Eat rarely


Fresh and frozen vegetables, including boiled and jacket potatoes.
All sorts of beans, lentils, and chick peas

Chips or roast potatoes cooked in polyunsaturated oil*

Chips or roast potatoes cooked in solid fat.
Oven chips and crisps

Dairy Foods

Cottage cheese, skimmed milk, soft cheese, curd cheese, very low-fat yogurt

Half-fat cheese (20-40% fat), eggs (3 a week)
Low-fat yogurt

Full-fat cheese, cream cheese, cheese spread.
Full-fat yogurt, cream, condensed or evaporated milk.


Chicken, turkey, veal, rabbit, game

Lean beef, bacon, pork, lamb, lean mince, liver

Streaky bacon, breast of lamb, sausages, salami, duck, goose, meat pies and pastries, skin on poultry


Unfried fish

Fish fried in vegetable oil,* oysters, mussels, scampi, lobster.

Fish roe, fish fried in hard fat (such as butter or lard)


Fresh, tinned, unsweetened and dried fruit

Avocado pears, fruit in syrup, crystallized fruit


Bread, pastries and cakes

Wholemeal bread, crisp breads

White bread, plain
semisweet biscuits

Croissants, digestive biscuits, savory biscuits, dumplings

Pasta, rice and cereals

Whole grain rice and pasta

White rice and pasta



Clear and home-made vegetable soups

Packet soups

Cream soups


Low-fat desserts
(such as jelly, sorbets, skimmed milk puddings)

Cakes, pastry and pudding made with polyunsaturated margarine. Low-fat ice cream

Shop-bought cakes, puddings and sauces. Sweet puddings, butter and cream sauces.
Dairy ice cream

Sweet things

Sugar-free sweeteners


Jam, marmalade, peanut butter, marzipan, lemon curd. Mincemeat, chocolate in any form, toffee, fudge, butterscotch and coconut bars