Healthy lifestyle changes
Learning to make healthier decisions about your diet, exercise, smoking and alcohol intake can make a big difference in helping to prevent and manage heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Following Australian Dietary Guidelines and cooking healthy recipes for you and your family are good ways to reduce the risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Some tips to eat more healthily:
- Enjoy a balanced diet that includes wholegrains, fibre, and healthy fats to give you the nutrition you need to protect your health. Use our Food Calculator to learn more about the food groups, how much we need and how often.
- Aim to eat more plant foods such as vegetables, legumes, nuts, fruits, wholegrains, and seeds – they are loaded with nutrients needed to maintain a healthy heart.
- Try to eat a wide variety of colourful vegetables at lunch and dinner to make sure you get your five serves of veggies a day.
- A small handful of nuts a day may help to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Nuts provide healthy fats, fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
- Try to include more legumes in your diet such as lentils, chickpeas and beans as they are packed with plant protein, fibre and slow releasing carbohydrates which can help manage blood glucose.
- Aim to include fish in your diet – either fresh, frozen or canned – for healthy omega 3 fats. Try tuna mixed with chickpeas for a double dose of heart healthy goodness.
- Avoiding foods and/or drinks that are high in unhealthy saturated fats, salt and added sugars can help to reduce your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This includes limiting occasional foods such as cakes, muffins, biscuits, confectionery, chips, high fat deli meats, and sugar sweetened drinks.
Doing regular physical activity can reduce your risk of developing heart disease or type 2 diabetes. Keeping active also helps to control heart disease and type 2 diabetes risk factors, including high blood pressure, higher cholesterol, high blood glucose and being above a healthy weight.
Did you know that even 30 minutes of exercise each day improves your overall health? Aim for at least 30 minutes of movement every day. Read our easy exercise tips to help you get started or check out these simple workouts that you can do at home.
If you’re not sure what type of physical activity is right for you and your condition, it’s always best to consult your GP.
Smoking damages the blood vessels to your heart, brain and other parts of your body. It can lead to heart attack, stroke and even premature death. Quitting smoking can significantly improve the health of your heart. If you’d like help to quit smoking, visit the NSW Quitline or call 13 78 48.
Heavy drinking or binge drinking can increase your chances of developing heart disease. Drinking a lot of alcohol over a long period of time can increase your heart rate, blood pressure, weaken your heart muscle and increase the level of cholesterol in your body. Find more information about limiting your alcohol intake or speak to your doctor.