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World Heart Day: Your Heart Health Is In Your Hands

Today (29 September) is World Heart Day, which marks an international campaign to fight against cardiovascular disease and spread awareness about how to achieve better heart health.

For instance, here's a simple way to look after your heart: Watch what you eat.

No, you don't have to give up your beloved laksa and char kway teow. Practicing good portion control means that you can maintain a balanced diet while still enjoying your favourite foods.

How, you ask? Well, Singapore Heart Foundation's Heart Smart Eating Plate has a good rule of thumb (or rather, fist) for you to follow.

Based on recommended guidelines by the Singapore Health Promotion Board, the Heart Smart Eating Plate aims to promote healthy eating habits and portion control through eating a mixture of food to maximise nutrient intake while discouraging “super-sized” portions, which may lead to excess weight gain and obesity.

Use your hand to remember food portion

A healthy and balanced meal consists of the following portions:

1. 1/4 plate of protein

- Protein helps to build and repair tissues in the body

- When choosing protein, choose lean meat, fish and plant-based protein (such as tofu and legumes)

- Aim for 2 servings of oily fish a week, as they contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for overall heart health

2. 1/4 plate of whole-grains

- Whole-grains provide energy to the body gradually and steadily

- They're also packed with nutrients that promote satiety (ie. they make you feel full more easily), thus helping you eat less and manage your weight more effectively

- In addition, whole-grains are high in fibre. Aside from keeping you full for longer after meals, this also helps to prevent constipation and lowers blood cholesterol levels

3. 1/2 plate of fruit and vegetables

- Go for 2 servings of fruits and 2 servings of vegetables per day

- Fruits and vegetables are loaded with dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are naturally present in plants and may help in reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases

- Like the colours of a rainbow, there is a colourful variety of fruits and vegetables. These colours represent different vitamins, phytochemicals and antioxidants. Consuming a rainbow of fruits and vegetables helps you to reap the benefits of these nutrients

Use your fingers to remember the 3-5-7 rule

Aside from knowing your portions, you should also be aware of the 3-5-7 Healthy Heart Principles, which are as follows:

3 Highs: High in Fibre, Fresh Food and Plant-based Protein

- Consume plenty of fruits, vegetables, soy products, beans and legumes

- Fibre, especially soluble fibre, helps to lower the cholesterol in your body

- These colourful goodies also provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants

5 Lows: Low in Alcohol, Fats, Cholesterol, Salt and Sugar

- Choose lean meat and skinless poultry cooked in healthy ways (eg. steam, poach, grill, stir fry, bake, boil, stew)

- Go easy on table salt, seasoning and pickles to keep your sodium intake low

- If you have a sweet tooth, consume sugar-laden food and drinks sparingly

- If you consume alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation

70% Full: Eat 70% Full

If you find yourself burping out loud after a meal (eww!), you may have overeaten. If you think your stomach is 70% full, it's probably just right. Have small frequent meals instead of 3 big meals.

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