What is a healthy diet?
A healthy diet is one that includes a variety of healthy foods to help manage your weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Everyone should eat a healthy diet, but it’s particularly important if you have heart problems.
- eating fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds every day
- making healthy fat choices by eating nuts, seeds, avocadoes and olives, and cooking with their oils
- eating fish or seafood 2-3 times a week
- including beans and legumes in at least 2 meals each week
- eating no more than 6 eggs a week
- reducing sugary snacks and other treats – for tips to help you with this, see How to cut down on sugar
- choosing reduced fat dairy foods, including milk, cheese and yoghurt
- using herbs and spices as flavourings, instead of salt
- drinking water.
How to be active after heart disease
Regular exercise can reduce your risk of further heart problems by helping to maintain a healthy blood pressure and weight. Exercise can also improve your confidence and sense of well-being.
Brisk walking is usually safe for most people, but talk to your doctor before starting to exercise if you have a heart condition. It’s easier to exercise regularly if you enjoy it, so build it into your daily routine. Walking with friends or joining a walking group can help to keep you motivated.
Every bit of exercise helps. Ideally, adults should have regular, moderate-intensity activity for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
Here are some tips for getting started with exercise.
Smoking and heart disease
Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits, reducing your risk of breathing problems, cancer, stroke, and heart disease. People who quit smoking after having a heart attack reduce their chances of having another one by 50% compared to those who keep smoking.
Alcohol and heart disease
Whether you can continue drinking alcohol with a heart condition depends on the nature of your condition, other aspects of your health, and any medication you may be taking. It’s best to get your doctor’s advice.
Cardiac rehabilitation is a specialised service to help you recover from your heart condition and get back to normal activities. Health professionals teach you how to manage your condition and support you in making healthy lifestyle changes. Ask your doctor to refer you to a cardiac rehabilitation service.
Last reviewed: January 2017