6 Rules for Keeping Your Diet Heart-Healthy

Maintaining a healthy diet not only does wonders for your waistline – it has been proven to be good for your heart too. Although there are medications that can be prescribed to address issues of heart disease, leading a healthy lifestyle and eating right are key to looking after your heart, protecting you against the risk factors.

Here, we present some simple things you can do to keep your diet heart-healthy:

1. Watch your cholesterol intake

When your body produces cholesterol in excess of what is needed, this will result in a high blood cholesterol condition which increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. Understanding the function of cholesterol in your body and making some changes to your lifestyle can help to bring down your blood cholesterol to an optimal level. This includes limiting your intake of high cholesterol food and keeping a close watch of the fat content in your food (refer to next point for more tips on this).

2. Reduce the fat content

There are different types of fats in our food and not all fats are created equal. While saturated fat is mainly found in animal, trans fat is found in deep fried and baked food. On the other hand, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (also known as the “good” fats) are found in vegetable oils (i.e. olive oil and canola oil), nuts, seeds and oily fish.

To keep your diet heart-healthy, it is important to reduce the saturated and trans fat content in the food you consume. Here are some simple tips to help you achieve that:

  • Try to use less oil when cooking and go for healthier cooking methods such as steaming, boiling and grilling
  • Remove the fat and skin of meat or poultry
  • Go for products that are fat-free or those with lower fat content such as low-fat milk and fat-free yogurt
  • Choose healthier cooking oils such as corn, soya bean, canola or olive oils

3. Avoid excess salt

A high-salt diet leads to water retention and an increase in blood volume, which heightens your risk factor of heart disease. Apart from limiting your intake of sauces, canned and processed food that are highly seasoned with salt, there are also other measures you can take to control the salt in your meals.

Some good practices include:

  • Tasting your food first before adding salt, sauces or seasoning. Only add what is necessary and do so sparingly.
  • Opt for less gravy when eating out, or skip this altogether
  • Instead of high-salt seasonings, you can spice up your cooking with natural herbs and spices such as garlic, onion, ginger, lemon juice, pepper and coriander

4. Up the fibre intake

Apart from being easier to digest, high-fibre foods such as wholegrains, fruits and vegetables are known to be beneficial in lowering blood pressure as well. Here are some golden rules for keeping your meals high-fibre and heart-healthy:

  • When it comes to bread, go for wholemeal or multigrain over plain white bread
  • Aim for 2 servings of fruits and 2 servings of vegetables per day – a great way to achieve this is to opt for fruits or vegetables as snacks instead of salty snack items

5. Manage your Weight

Gaining a few kilograms every now and then may not seem to be an issue, but this can add up over time. Your waist size is a good indicator of your weight status – having too much fat around the waist area may lead to health problems that could affect your heart.

A large body size increases blood pressure as the heart requires more effort to pump and supply blood to all the cells. Excess fat may also damage your kidneys, which help to regulate blood pressure. Thus, one of the key things you can do to reduce your stroke risk is to lose weight gradually.

If you are classified as overweight, losing as little as 5% of your body weight may lower your risk of heart disease. Setting aside some time for physical activity such as biking or brisk walking can help you lose weight, or to maintain weight loss.

6. Moderate alcohol consumption

Excessive consumption of alcohol is linked to a host of health problems, including high triglycerides level and high blood pressure which ultimately increases your risk factor for heart disease. Moderate alcohol consumption can lead to better heart health (2 glasses for men, 1 glass for women). However, given the possible risks associated with excessive drinking, heath experts strongly advise that people who do not consume alcohol should not start drinking in their bid to stay heart-healthy. It is highly recommended that you consult your doctor or dietitian to discuss the risks of consuming alcohol and the treatment plan for heart disease.

Game on for health!

To keep your heart health in tip-top condition, there are optimal readings to strive for. The following are some numbers that will keep you in the safe zone:

Target BMI: 18.5 to 24.9

Waist size: Less than 102cm (Men), Less than 89cm (Women)

Blood pressure: 120/80 mm Hg or less

LDL (bad cholesterol): Less than 100mg/dl

HDL (good cholesterol): More than 40mg/dl (Men), More than 50mg/dl (Women)

Triglycerides: Less than 150mg/dl

Blood sugar (fasting): Less than 100mg/dl


Article reviewed by Dr William Tan, Chief Strategy Officer and Medical Director of MindChamps.


In support of World Heart Day, MindChamps Medical Clinics are encouraging everyone to get their Health Screening done on a yearly basis. Early detection, followed by treatment and good control of the condition can result in better outcomes. Book your health screening today.



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