Heart-Healthy Diet Tips

Basic dietary and lifestyle guidelines for prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease

  • Exercise
  • Stop smoking
  • Use very little / no salt
  • Lose weight if overweight
  • Follow a “Heart-Healthy” diet!

Dietary factors:


  • Keep your overall fat intake low: 2-3tsp/day of butter/olive or canola oil
  • Avoid animal fats (skin on chicken / fat on meat/ full cream dairy / high fat cheeses)
  • Use small quantities of healthy fats daily: avocado, olive/canola oil, nuts (30g max)
  • Use lots of tuna / sardines / pilchards
  • Avoid hard brick margarines and commercial baked products
  • Be careful of products that contain hidden fats
  • Use omega-3 fatty acid food sources (dark oil fish: salmon, tuna, pilchards, sardines) and supplements


Fibre (found in wholegrains, fruit and vegetables) eaten many times a day, lowers cholesterol, especially LDL cholesterol. Fibre has a cardio-protective effect in the body.

Sources of fibre:

  • Soya
  • Oat Bran, Oats porridge, Hi Fibre Bran
  • High fibre breads, e.g. heavy rye/seed breads
  • High fibre grains, e.g. brown rice, pearl barley, durum wheat/whole wheat pasta
  • Legumes:  beans, lentils, soya beans and split peas
  • Potato with skin, fresh fruit and vegetables

Balance your food intake

  • Eat a good balance from ALL food groups.
  • This way adequate fibre is automatically included.
  • This also ensures adequate intake of the all-important anti-oxidant vitamins (as is found in colourful fruits and vegetables, as well as in soy beans).
  • Drink 2-3l water per day.
  • Eat a small meal or snack every 3-4 hours to ensure stable blood sugar levels, and thus stable insulin levels.

The Mediterranean diet is a good indication of how to balance one’s food intake.

Basic Principles of the Mediterranean Diet

  1. Use olive oil as the main added fat.
  2. Eat vegetables with every meal.
  3. Eat at least 2 legume-based (e.g. beans, lentils, chickpeas and soya) meals per week.
  4. Eat at least 2 fish meals per week.  Include plenty of dark oily fish such as fresh tuna, salmon and mackerel.  Also include tinned sardines and pilchards.
  5. Eat only small portions of beef, lamb, pork or chicken, no more than 2 to 3 times per week.
  6. Eat fresh fruit every day and dried fruit and nuts as snacks or desserts.
  7. Eat yoghurt every day (200g) and cheese in moderation (30 to 40g).
  8. Include whole grain breads and cereals with meals (up to 4 portions per day).
  9. Consume wine in moderation (one standard drink (100ml) per day), always with meals, don’t get drunk.  Try to have a couple of alcohol-free days per week.
  10. Have sweets and sweet drinks for special occasions only.

Soya: Nutritional information

Soy Beans are the most nutritious plant food available, consisting of:

  • All 3 of the macro-nutrients required for good nutrition:
    • COMPLETE protein, i.e. contain ALL the essential amino acids in the amounts needed for human health; in an amino acid profile close in quality to meat, milk and egg protein
    • Carbohydrate; and
    • Fat  (soy oil is rich in essential fatty acids, phospholipids, natural sterols – all of which have known important health benefits)
  • Vitamins (including folic acid)
  • Minerals (including calcium and iron)
  • Prebiotics (e.g. Raffinose and Stachyose, which “feed” the good colonic bacteria = probiotics, resulting in a stronger, healthier colon with enormous benefits to the immune system).
  • Fibre
  • Isoflavones (accounting for 75% of soy’s protective effects in the human body)

What does the research say about Soya

Treatment of heart disease:      

An extensive body of literature indicates that soy food consumption leads to significant decreases in total cholesterol (10 – 19%), LDL cholesterol (14–20%), and triglycerides (8–14%).

  • Soluble fibre in soy beans assists with: Lowering of blood cholesterol levels, especially LDL (the “bad”) Cholesterol

The US Food and Drug Administration’s health claims on viscous fibres, soy protein, plant sterols, and nuts indicate that substantial research of these foods supports their ability to lower serum lipids and, as a result, reduce the risk of heart disease.

In a 2012 study it was  demonstrated that a beverage consisting of 30 g soy protein and 4 g phytosterols added to a

Mediterranean-style, low-glycaemic-index diet led to better improvements in lipid markers, such as triglycerides and total cholesterol,  in women who were  postmenopausal, overweight and had high lipid levels than a low-fat diet without these key phytochemical-rich foods.

  • Essential fatty acids found in soya products (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid): Protect cell membranes (including blood vessel lining): admitting healthy nutrients and barring damaging substances, i.e. protecting one from developing atherosclerosis, and thus protective against heart disease
  • Soya products do not contain and of the unhealthy saturated fats which accelerate a build-up of plaque in the arteries.
  • Isoflavones / plant sterols found in soya have proven cholesterol-lowering effects.

Prevention of heart disease:

  • Soy foods may help to prevent heart disease by reducing total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, blood pressure and possibly preventing plaque build-up in the arteries (atherosclerosis).
  • A huge collective research study done in 2012 showed that soy (isoflavones) had an effect of lowering blood pressure in people with hypertension (high blood pressure), but not in those with normal blood pressure.

Heart-Smart Recipe

Cholesterol Lowering Smoothie

(low in saturated (bad) fat; rich in cholesterol-lowering soluble fibre)

Blend together in a blender/mixer:

1 cup (250ml) Soya Life Soya Milk (reconstituted)

1 peeled, chopped apple

1 large peeled, chopped carrot

½ cup frozen berries (any kind)

2 scoops (20g) Soya Life Porridge

1Tbs (15ml) raw oat bran

1 cup ice

Download helpful Heart-Smart Menu Ideas

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