The type of diet you follow determines your risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, cancer and strokes.

We have become much less active as a society and this combined with a diet high in processed foods, salt and sugar has led to an increase in heart disease and strokes. And heart disease is the UK’s biggest killer, accounting for deaths in 1 in 4 men and 1 in 6 women.

There is a connection between the types of foods that we eat and our heart health. Foods such as oily fish, wholegrain bread, fresh fruit and vegetables are good for our hearts whereas a diet high in saturated fat, sugar and salt isn’t.

And yet many of us continue to have too much saturated fat, salt and sugar in our diets.

The main culprits in a high fat diet include pies, pastries, crisps, sweets and takeaways/processed meals. And yet we still consume these types of foods even though we are told that they are bad for us.


There are several reasons for this which includes the fact that these foods are cheap, convenient and tasty. This makes them very attractive in our increasingly busy lives.

How much easier is it to reach for a microwave meal or order a takeaway rather than spend time cooking? And when heading back home after the daily grind the last thought on many people’s minds is whether the meal will be ‘heart healthy’ or not.

Another factor, especially for women is how many calories a meal contains rather than the amount of saturated fat.

And because there seems to be so many things to think food shopping that it is easier to concentrate on just the one. And that is usually price more than anything else.

But we should be concerned…

Even foods that we assume are healthy can have a few hidden traps. For example, baked beans are considered a healthy snack yet a standard sized tin of beans contains around 2.7g of salt out of our recommended 6g a day (source: Food Standards Agency, survey 57/04).

However, one way of dealing with this is to read food labels and check the amounts of fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt. This will help you to decide whether the food is a healthy option or not.

Another issue is the fact that we are consuming larger portions of food. And food itself has grown in size with the result that we see ‘triple packs’ of sandwiches, ‘two for one’ offers and ‘supersize’.

Plus these larger portions mean an increased calorie intake which can lead to excessive weight gain. And excessive weight gain such as obesity is linked to a range of health problems which includes heart disease.

If you want to know more about types of foods and portion sizes, then visit our Food Portions section.

Heart Health Guide Index:

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