Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a term used to describe all diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Coronary heart disease (which includes heart attacks and angina) and stroke are common forms of CVD. In Australia, coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death, accounting for 18% of all deaths, while stroke accounts for 9% of all deaths.
Risk factors for CVD
- High blood cholesterol;
- High blood pressure;
- Physical inactivity;
- Being overweight;
- Excessive alcohol consumption;
- Diabetes; and
What is blood cholesterol?
- LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol makes up the majority of blood cholesterol and is often termed the ‘bad’ cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is the type that clogs up blood vessels. The target level for LDL cholesterol is less than 2.0 mmol/L for people with existing heart disease, and less than 2.5 mmol/L for others at high risk.
- HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol or ‘good’ cholesterol actually helps protect against CVD by unclogging blood vessels. The target level for HDL cholesterol is more than 1.0mmol/L. You should aim to lower your LDL cholesterol and raise your HDL cholesterol.
What is blood pressure?
A lifestyle for good cardiovascular health
- Healthy eating;
- Regular physical activity (aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most days of the week);
- Not smoking;
- Maintaining a healthy weight; and
- Limiting alcohol consumption.
- Base your meals around vegetables (including legumes), fruits and grain-based foods (preferably whole grain) such as pasta, noodles, rice and bread.
- Eat moderate amounts of lean meat (trimmed of fat) and poultry (without skin).
- Choose low or reduced fat dairy products, aiming for 3 serves every day.
- Eat fish (fresh or canned) two to three times a week to get enough marine omega-3 fats.
- Include omega-3 fats from plant sources such as walnuts, linseeds and canola oil.
- Limit fried takeaway foods, cakes, pastries, crisps and biscuits.
- Use moderate amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and oils e.g. olive oil and canola oil.
- Use plant sterol enriched foods, for example, margarines, low fat milk and yogurt.
- Limit your intake of salt.
Try a DASH of healthy eating
Dairy foods and cardiovascular health
Dairy linked to better cardiovascular health
Enjoy 3 serves of dairy every day
Dairy foods such as milk, yogurt and cheese are important sources of at least 10 essential nutrients including vitamins A and B12, calcium, carbohydrate, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, protein, riboflavin and zinc. For good general and cardiovascular health, make sure you get your 3 serves of dairy foods every day. A serve of dairy could include one glass (250mL) of milk, one tub (200g) of yogurt or two slices (40g) of cheese. With the wide variety of dairy foods available, there is a choice to suit everyone as part of a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Nutrition Australia acknowledges Dairy Australia as the original author of this resource.
Published: April 2009
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