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Healthy Heart

Learn exactly how to maintain a healthy heart.

There are some kinds of broken heart that heal as time passes. But there is another type of broken heart that is not so easily fixed – a diseased heart from poor lifestyle habits.

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death among men in New Zealand.

For a 40 year old man, the risk of developing heart disease at some time in the future is one in two. The good news is that a healthy heart can be maintained through a healthy lifestyle. A balanced diet and exercise is a great way to start towards having a healthy heart and it can help to prevent an early death from the failure of this vital organ.

Ten tips for a strong heart

In order to keep your heart happy, you need to treat it with respect:

  1. Don´t smoke.
  2. Control your body weight.
  3. Enjoy a healthy diet with a variety of foods from the core food groups.
  4. Limit your intake of foods high in saturated fat such as fatty meats, pastries, pies, biscuits, creamy sauces, butter, lard, ghee, copha, cream, coconut milk and coconut cream.
  5. Drink alcohol in moderation.
  6. Keep active – aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking, on all or most days of the week.
  7. Have regular check-ups with you doctor.
  8. Have your blood cholesterol tested and know your level of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ blood fats.
  9. Get your blood pressure checked regularly.
  10. Manage your stress levels.

Fuel for your heart and soul

Try one of these tasty and nutritious food ideas to feed your heart (and soul).

  • Make vegetables and grain-based foods the focus of each meal. Include a variety of fresh, canned or frozen vegetables and salad, breakfast cereals, bread, pasta, noodles, rice and cous cous.
  • Try and have two legume-based meals each week. Legumes include baked beans, four bean mix, chick peas, red kidney beans, cannellini beans, lentils and split peas. They can easily be added to soups, stews, casseroles and curries.
  • Eat fish at least twice a week. This includes fresh fish and canned fish like canned tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring.
  • Select lean meats like skinless chicken, lean beef, lean veal, lamb and trim pork. Avoid or limit fatty meats like sausages and hamburger mince and deli meats like salami, chicken roll, luncheon sausage and liverwurst.
  • Use margarine spreads instead of butter or dairy blends, or better still choose avocado or hummus.
  • Use only a small amount of oil in your cooking or salads. Choose a polyunsaturated oil like sunflower or soybean oil, or a monounsaturated oil like canola, olive or peanut oil. Use a spray oil instead of pouring it.
  • Choose low fat or reduced fat dairy foods like milk, cheese, yoghurt, custard and ice cream.
  • Snack on fresh fruit and plain, unsalted nuts.
  • Try to restrict takeaway foods (e.g. pizza, hamburgers, fried chicken, pies, pastries and creamy pasta dishes) to once a week.
  • Go easy on snack foods like potato crisps, corn chips, cakes, pastries and cream-filled biscuits. A small treat once a week is OK, but try not to go over that.

This fact sheet contains general information and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional for specific advice for your personal situation.

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