While it can be tempting to neglect healthy eating habits as you home isolate from COVID-19, the Heart Foundation warns it is more important than ever to eat well for your heart.
During this unprecedented lockdown, the Heart Foundation’s Health Strategy Director, Julie Anne Mitchell, said one of the best ways to stay healthy and support your immunity is eating the right mix of foods over the days, weeks and months ahead.
“From now on, many of us will be eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at home, so a bit of meal planning can minimize food wastage and help reduce cost. It’s also a great time to audit your pantry or freezer to use any foods you already have before they go out of date.
“We’re encouraging Aussies to adopt a heart healthy eating pattern by filling their plates with a good mix of veggies, fruits and wholegrains, together with some healthy proteins like fish, legumes or smaller amounts of lean chicken or eggs. If you’re choosing red meat, make it lean and have less than 350 grams a week.”
Last year the Heart Foundation revised its guidelines around meat, dairy and egg consumption.
Ms Mitchell recommends people with heart disease or high cholesterol should choose reduced fat unflavoured milk, cheese or yogurt and those with Type 2 Diabetes should limit eggs to fewer than seven per week.
“We may face many days in home isolation, so while buying fresh produce is great, frozen or canned vegetables, beans or fruits can be just as nutritious and store well for a long time.
“Shoppers buying any canned or packaged foods should turn the product over and read the nutrition label. It’s best to compare products in the same category and opt for those with lower sodium or added sugar levels.”
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic reached our shores, poor diet was a leading risk for heart disease – Australia’s single biggest killer – taking 48 lives a day.
Staying home is the perfect opportunity for Australians to dust off their cooking skills or even learn to cook so here’s some hearty eating tips for home isolation:
Five hearty eating tips for home isolation:
Prepare ahead, but don’t hoard
Stocking up on a few extra staples is sensible but there is no need to hoard as supermarkets will stay open during the COVID-19 lockdown. Plan your meals ahead and shop with a list to ensure you’re getting the right ingredients for a variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner meals to minimise food wastage and cost.
Fresh, canned or frozen – it’s about the mix
Frozen veggies can be just as healthy as fresh options. Canned vegetables, beans or fruit have an extra-long shelf life, so they are perfect for your pantry. When choosing canned vegetables and legumes (like beans or lentils), buy “no added salt”, “low-salt” or “reduced-salt” versions and choose fruit canned in juice rather than syrup.
Choose heart-healthy proteins over red meats
Heart healthy proteins like fish or seafood are an excellent source of omega-3s, which our bodies need but cannot produce. If you can’t get fresh fish, choose canned salmon or tuna in spring water rather than salty brine. Or you can opt for lean chicken or eggs, but if choosing red meat, make sure it is lean and limit to 1-3 meals a week.
Set routine mealtimes and cut the couch snacking
Now the couch and fridge are in easy reach, avoid snacking by establishing a mealtime routine to keep work and play separate. If you do snack, go for a handful of unsalted nuts, a cup of veggie sticks or a small plate of cut up fruit to curb that afternoon craving. Opt for this instead of unhealthy foods like chips, biscuits, chocolate or flavoured sugary drinks. While these unhealthy snacks can be an occasional treat, try to avoid stocking them in your pantry in the first place.
Brush up your home cooking skills and get inspired
Staying at home for long periods of time is the perfect opportunity to either learn to cook or brush up on your skills. If you’ve stocked up on pantry essentials like tinned tomatoes or lentils and need inspiration on how to turn them into a meal, why not try some heart healthy recipes here