Healthy Eating

What is healthy eating?

Healthy eating is about eating a variety of fresh and minimally processed foods in a way that fits with your lifestyle, budget and dietary requirements.

At Her Heart, we want to empower women and their loved ones to eat well for their heart health, as well as giving you the right advice!

Not too long ago, the Australian Government released an easy to follow Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, which shows you which foods to eat and in what amounts to make it easier to choose a healthy option.

Click on the link to see a great picture of what foods are good for you, as well as varieties of foods.

The Healthy Food Groups

Vegetables and Legumes/Beans

  • Vegetables and legumes are a wonderful way to not only get as much fibre and good minerals and nutrients, but they are also one of the best food groups to reduce weight gain and heart disease.
  • Adult women are recommended to have at least 5 serves per day of this food group; with one serve equal to ½ a cup of cooked vegetables, ½ a cup of legumes, 1 cup of raw vegetables, ½ a medium starchy vegetable such as potato and 1 medium tomato .
  • It is important to eat a rainbow of vegetables to ensure that you are getting the most nutritional benefit.
  • It’s a good idea to think of eating vegetables by their types to ensure you get as much variety as possible. The types are: dark green/cruciferous (such as spinach, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts and cauliflower), root vegetables (carrots, sweet potato, taro, beetroot and turnips), legumes/beans (chickpeas, red kidney beans, tofu, lentils and split peas) as well as other varietals (eggplant, celery, capsicum, pumpkin and green beans) .

Wholegrain, Grains and High-Fibre Cereals

  • Wholegrain cereals are a great addition to your diet as they not only provide you with the most fibre, they also provide important nutrients such as iron and zinc.
  • Australian women are recommended to eat between 4-6 serves per day of this food group, with one serving looking like: ¼ cup of muesli, ½ a cup of cooked carbohydrates (such as wholewheat pasta and noodles, buckwheat noodles, barley and quinoa), ½ a cup of cooked porridge and 1 slice of bread.

Fruit

  • Eating 2 serves daily of fresh fruit not only is a good way to combat sugar cravings, it is also a useful dose of healthy vitamins, minerals and chemicals which can reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • Fruit is an excellent addition to meals such as muesli, porridge, sliced on toast, baked in low-fat muffins or in salads, as well being a great snack on their own.
  • It is important to limit your intake of fruit juice and dried fruit to occasionally as these are high in kilojoules.
  • One-serve of fruit depends on the size of the fruit you’re eating! For example: 1 medium banana, 1 apple, 1 pear 1 orange or 1 cup of canned or diced fruit (no syrup or sugar) or 2 small fruits (such as kiwi fruits or plums) are individually considered one serve.
  • Other great fruits include: berries, citrus fruits such as mandarins, stone fruits such as peaches, tropical fruits such as melons and fruits such as grapes and passionfruit.

Proteins

  • Protein-rich foods not only serve as the building blocks of your body, but they also provide you with essential vitamins and minerals. For women in particular, these vitamins and minerals are essential for life-stages such as adolescence, menstruation and pregnancy.
  • It is recommended that you eat at least 3 serves per day of proteins, with pregnant women recommended to eat at least 4 serves. A serve looks like: 2 large eggs, 170g of tofu, 65g of cooked lean meats (such as kangaroo, beef), 100g of cooked fish (such as salmon), 1 can of fish (such as tuna), 80g of lean poultry, 1 cup of beans/pulses (such as lentils) or 30g of unsalted nuts/seeds (such as tahini, peanut butter, peanuts, brazil nuts).

Dairy and Dairy Free Alternatives

Low-fat dairy and dairy-free alternatives are the best source of calcium (a mineral important for strong bones) as well as minerals and vitamins .

There are three types of this food group that you can choose from to include in your diet :

  1. Yoghurt: plain and flavoured (low sugar) yoghurt, reduced fat and full cream yoghurts and soy yoghurts with added calcium.
  2. Milk: reduced fat and full cream types, soy milks (fortified with calcium), milk powder and long-life milks.
  3. Cheese: hard-cheeses such as cheddar and soy-based cheeses with added calcium.
  • Women before the age of 50, pregnant and lactating women are recommended to consume 2 ½ serves daily, with women over the age of 50 recommended to consume 4 serves daily .
  • A serve of this food group looks like: ¾ cup of yoghurt, 1 cup (250mls) of milk, 2 slices (40g) of hard cheese, ½ cup of ricotta and 1 cup (250mls) of a calcium-added soy milk alternative.

Fats, Sugars, Alcohol and Salt

  • These food groups should be consumed rarely, in small amounts should be left as a celebratory food. Eating these foods too often is linked to weight gain, one of the key risk factors for heart disease.
  • Fats: unsaturated fats (found in extra-virgin olive oil and margarine) are encouraged in small amounts. On the other hand, trans fats and saturated fats are encouraged to be rarely eaten. These foods include: smallgoods (such as salami), coconut cream, lard, fatty meats, deep fried foods and pastries) .
  • Sugars: whilst there are many naturally occurring sugars in foods such as fruit, the refined sugars which are added to sweet treats such as ice-cream and cakes should be eaten sparingly. These sugars are linked to Type 2 Diabetes, which is a risk factor for heart disease.
  • Alcohol: drinking excess amounts of alcohol not only has health effects such as weight gain, it can also lead to other heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure. Women are recommended no more than 2-standard drinks per day, or 4 drinks in a single, isolated event. 1 standard drink is the equivalent to 100mls of wine, 30 mls of spirits or 285mls of full-strength beer. Perhaps try to have at least 2 alcohol free-days per week?
  • SALT: a small amount of daily salt is great for your health, but any more than that can lead to high blood pressure; a risk factor for heart disease. Check labels for sodium, choosing foods where sodium is one of the last ingredients mentioned, or low-salt labelled products .