Healthy dietary practices are based on one’s overall pattern of food intake over an extended period of time and not on the intake of a single meal. The goal should be to achieve and maintain a healthy eating pattern that includes foods from each of the major food groups. The suggested percentage of calories from each of the food groups are given in the table below:
Nutrient composition of a heart-healthy diet
Less than 7% of total calories
Upto 10% of total calories
Upto 20% of total calories
20%-30% of total calories
50%-60% of total calories
Approximately 15% of total calories
Less than 200 mg/d
Balance energy intake and expenditure to maintain desirable body weight/prevent weight gain
Principles of a heart-healthy diet
Choose a diet with plenty of vegetables and fruits
The diet should contain at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, both as meals and snacks. There are no restrictions on any type of fruits and vegetable (except for those with diabetes). Fruits and vegetables are high in nutrients and fiber and relatively low in calories, and can be consumed in large quantities. Fruit juices tend to be high in calories and lack fiber, and hence you should eat the fruit rather than have the juice.
Choose a diet low in saturated fat
There are three kinds of fat; saturated mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated. Saturated fat raises blood cholesterol more than other forms of fat. Reducing saturated fat to less than 10 percent of calories will help you lower your blood cholesterol level. Oil should be used sparingly for cooking. It is recommended that not more than 1 tbsp (1 tbsp = 3 tsp = 15 ml) be used per person per day. The oil selected should be low in saturated fat and should have a healthy mixture of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Among the oils, groundnut, soybean, rice bran, mustard and sunflower are recommended. Olive oil is an excellent choice, but it is very expensive and its flavor may not be palatable to everyone.
Foods high in saturated fat include
- Red meat
- Whole milk and milk products
- Bakery products, such as muffins and cakes
- Ghee, vanaspati, coconut oil
- Butter, mayonnaise, cheese
Foods you can substitute with
Mayonnaise based salad dressings
Red meat (mutton, beef, organ meat)
Skimmed milk / cows milk
Frozen fruit based desserts
Baked or steamed foods
Sambhar or coriander chutney
Almonds / walnuts
Yogurt based salad dressings
White meat (chicken and fish)
Choose a diet low in cholesterol
The body makes the cholesterol it requires. In addition, cholesterol is obtained from food. Dietary cholesterol comes only from animal sources such as egg yolks, meat (especially organ meats such as liver), poultry, fish, and milk products. Contrary to popular belief cholesterol is not present in vegetable oils. However, in addition to dietary cholesterol, the saturated fat that you consume is converted to cholesterol in the body, and should therefore be kept to a minimum. Choosing foods with less cholesterol and saturated fat will help lower your blood cholesterol levels
Foods high in cholesterol include
- Egg yolk
- Organ meat, like liver and kidney
- Red meat
- Shell fish, like prawns and crab
- Whole milk, cheese
Choose a diet high in grains and low in simple sugars
The diet should contain 4-6 servings per day of grain products, which provide complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Complex carbohydrates (like brown rice) are recommended over simple carbohydrates (like sugar). People tend to put on weight when they obtain their carbohydrates from simple sugars (like soft drinks) instead of complex carbohydrates. Grains, vegetables fruits legumes and nuts are good sources of fiber.
Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals
Smaller meals help stave off feelings of starvation, which can lead to binge eating. It’s also an easy way to get fruits and vegetables into your diet.
Keep your food low in salt
The simplest way to avoid extra salt is to remove the salt-shaker from your dining table. Foods high in salt include:
- Processed foods
- Baked beans
- Canned soups
HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU EAT??
It is important to match intake of energy (calories) to overall energy needs. There is no ‘magic formula’ for weight loss. Weight loss or gain is dependent on a simple mathematical equation.
CHANGE IN WEIGHT = CALORIES CONSUMED – CALORIES BURNED
We consume calories through the food we eat and burn the calories through activities of daily living, exercise, and through our metabolism. The basal metabolic caloric requirement can be calculated by multiplying your weight in kg by 20 cals.
In addition you need to add 20% of calories for a sedentary person (desk job); 50 % for a person who is moderately active; and 100% for a person who is very active (such as a laborer).
Example: for a 60 kg sedentary individual, the caloric requirement would be 60 x 20 = 1200 + 240 (20% of 1200) = 1440 cals.
This is the amount of calories a person would require to maintain their current weight. However, when BMI is excessive (>25 kg/m2-to calculate BMI, see article on risk factors for heart disease), caloric intake should be less than energy expended to reduce BMI. Diets for weight reduction should be limited in total calories, and should try and achieve a deficit of 500 to 1000 kcal a day. This will help achieve a weight loss of 0.5- 1 kg per week. The overall intake and health status should be considered while determining the amount of caloric deficit.
Caloric content of 20 most common Indian foods.
Corn Flakes with milk
Main Meal Items
Chapati (with oil)
Alcohol (whisky, rum etc)
2 in no
1 bowl (30 gms)
1 katori (30gm)
1 medium Size
1 in no
2 in no
1 in no
1 in no
4 in no