15 Feb, 2024

Eating for a Healthy Heart

Healthy family meal food vegetables meat on table

What we eat plays a big part in keeping our hearts ticking along in a healthy way.

Did you know that every 90 minutes a New Zealander dies from heart disease? Many of these deaths are premature and preventable.

Source: The Heart Foundation of New Zealand

One of the main ways you can look after your health to prevent heart disease is to eat a healthy diet.

A simple way to do this is to choose foods that are in a form that is as close to nature as possible. The least processed the better!

Plenty of fruit and vegetables is a must. Then some whole grains in place of refined grains, legumes (eg: beans), nuts, seeds, and other sources of healthy fats such as oily fish are all really nutritious and healthy choices. You may also choose to eat non-processed lean meats, poultry and/or dairy.

Here is a visual guide by the Heart Foundation showing the food types and amounts we should eat daily.  

healthy heart visual food guide heart foundation

How to use the Healthy Heart Visual Food Guide

Source: The Heart Foundation of New Zealand

  • When you're doing your food shopping, the proportions of food in your trolley should be similar to the food guide. For example, vegetables and fruit should fill about 40% of your trolley.
  • When you're planning what to eat over a day. Have you eaten foods from each food group in roughly the same balance as the Healthy Heart food guide? If you put everything you eat over a day out on a table, how would it compare?
  • To find some starting points to eat a little healthier, here are some simple steps towards healthier eating that you might like to take. Could you eat one more vegetable each day, or cut back on junk food?
  • Stick it on the fridge as a quick guide to whether a food's healthy. Which part of the Healthy Heart Food Guide does the food fit in, and is it a healthier type of that food?
  • Use the Healthy Heart food guide to help you to plan a meal. Substitute ingredients with similar foods to ensure you get a wide variety of nutrients for optimal heart health.

By following this guide to healthy eating, you’ll be doing your heart a big favor and supporting your overall health too.

Eating healthy needn’t be boring or expensive. A good tip to keep the cost of fresh fruit and veges down is to just buy what is in season as those items will most likely be much cheaper then.  

Below are some links we have put together to help you find out more on the Heart Foundation’s website. Then at the end of this resource we have shared some really yummy and healthy family recipe ideas including free downloadable cookbooks.

Why not commit to a healthy diet as a family so everyone can benefit and feel healthier while looking after your heart health together.

Healthy Heart Eating 

Source: The Heart Foundation of New Zealand

Head over to this great info page by the Heart Foundation where you can find the following information...

How to read food labels

Heart-healthy recipes

Portion sizes

Kids’ kitchen – cooking for kids

Healthy eating blogs

Cookbooks Available for FREE Download

The Heart Foundation also offers a range of healthy cook books full of delicious healthy recipes.

Our favorite picks are:

Pasifika Tastes Cookbook

A collection of mouth-watering recipes from the Pacific Islands. Pasifika Tastes contains a selection of traditional recipes with a healthy twist. The book also includes some modern and everyday recipes that will suit the whole family.

Pasifika Tastes Cookbook Cover Heart Foundation Recipes

Cheap Eats Cookbook

A collection of low-cost recipes designed to feed your family without losing taste, quality or nutrition.

Cheap Eats Cookbook Heart Foundation

Affordable Eats Cookbook

Looking for easy cheap meals so you can eat healthy on a budget? These healthy nutritious recipes can feed your family for less than $4 per person. Healthy food recipes for those trying to eat healthy food on a budget.

Affordable Eats Cookbook Heart Foundation

We hope these ideas inspire you and your family to make healthier daily food choices - with your heart in mind.

Remember, that eating healthy not only benefits your heart but your overall health and wellbeing too.