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Eating a healthy diet can lower your risk of heart disease – the leading cause of death for men

Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death for Australian men.

Paying attention to what you eat is one of the most important preventative measures people can take to reduce their risk.

Peninsula Health Dietitian Sarah Groves shares her top nutrition tips, including some diet advice specifically for men.

Tips for men

• Do more cooking at home.
“We find that men tend to do a lot less cooking than women,” explains Sarah. “If people cook at home more they tend to have diets that have less fat and less sugar. Often men regularly eat convenience foods which don’t place high priority on nutrition.”

• Eat fruit
“Men tend to eat a bit less fruit so we encourage them to have fruit as a snack.”

• Be sure to eat a variety of meat types
“Often men tend to go for red meat most of the time, and they can choose quite fatty cuts. We encourage them to eat leaner meats, like chicken and fish, a bit more frequently or even have some vegetarian style meals as well.”

Tips for men and women

• Eat more vegetables
“We encourage everyone to really boost up their veggie intake – that’s the main thing that will help someone’s health through nutrition.”

• Try not to use food as a comfort tool
“We see emotional eating in men and women. Food is often used as a comfort tool. We see people that may have quit smoking, cut back on alcohol and food is kind of the third crutch.”

• Eat regular meals and snacks to avoid non-hungry eating
“Have regular meals and snacks during the day. Often we see people who are eating a lot at night and then then they try and make up for it by not eating much during the day which perpetuates the cycle of getting hungry at night.”

• Find other ways to de-stress at night other than with food
“We encourage people to find an activity they enjoy to reduce stress at night. It might be exercise or a hobby – some people play music or do craft or build things and that takes them away from whatever is stressing them and also isn’t food.”

Risk factors for heart disease

A number of factors are associated with the build-up of fatty deposits in the coronary arteries, including smoking, lack of physical activity and a family history of the disease.

 

Other risk factors include:

Type of fat eaten – saturated and trans fats increase blood cholesterol and heart attack rates. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats lower the risk of heart attacks.

Obesity – many overweight and obese people have diets high in fat, particularly saturated fat. A person who carries the bulk of their body fat around their stomach is at greater risk of heart disease than someone whose body fat tends to settle around their bottom, hips and thighs.

High blood pressure – blood pressure is the amount of pressure within the arteries (blood vessels that carry blood around the body). High blood pressure means that the pressure in the arteries is higher than normal. This may be because the arteries are less elastic, there is more blood volume, or more blood is being pumped out of the heart.

To speak to someone at Peninsula Health’s dietitian service, please call 1300 665 781 between 8:30am – 5:00pm, Monday – Friday.

Sarah Groves is a dietitian in the Community Health Team at Peninsula Health.