Dinner isn’t just a third daily meal, it’s the last opportunity of the day to give your body the nutrients it needs before going to sleep.

When choosing what to put in your body it’s imperative to remember what foods can help maintain heart health, as a healthy heart is central to overall good health.

A diet high in saturated fats, salt and sugar can increase the risk of heart disease. It’s best to focus on nutrient-dense, whole foods that provide essential nutrients.

Mr Shyam Kolvekar, a Cardiothoracic Surgery Consultant based in London, shared some of the components to consider when planning a heart-healthy dinner as well as five heart-healthy dinner ideas.

1. Lean proteins

Choose lean protein sources such as skinless poultry, fish (especially fatty fish like salmon), beans, lentils, tofu, or legumes.

Mr Kolvekar said: “These options are lower in saturated fat, which is beneficial for heart health.”

2. Wholegrains

Opt for whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, or barley.

Mr Kolvekar said: “Whole grains provide fibre, which can help lower cholesterol levels and support heart health.”

3. Vegetables

Incorporate a variety of colourful vegetables into your dinner. Vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibre.

Mr Kolvekar said: “Aim to fill half your plate with vegetables.”

4. Healthy fats

Include sources of healthy fats in moderation, such as olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds.

Mr Kolvekar said: “These fats can contribute to heart health when consumed in appropriate amounts.”

5. Limit sodium

Be mindful of sodium intake by choosing low-sodium options and using herbs and spices for flavour instead of excessive salt.

Mr Kolvekar said: “High sodium intake can contribute to high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease.”

6. Avoid trans fats

Limit or avoid foods containing trans fats, often found in partially hydrogenated oils.

Mr Kolvekar said: “Trans fats can raise bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and lower good cholesterol (HDL).”

7. Portion control

Pay attention to portion sizes to avoid overeating. Mr Kolvekar said: “Eating appropriate portions helps maintain a healthy weight, which is important for heart health.”

8. Minimise processed foods

Reduce the consumption of highly processed foods, as they often contain added sugars, unhealthy fats, and high levels of sodium.

Mr Kolvekar said: “Opt for whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible.”

Heart healthy dinner ideas that incorporate these components

  • Grilled salmon with quinoa and roasted vegetables.
  • Stir-fried tofu with a variety of colourful vegetables and brown rice.
  • Baked chicken breast with sweet potato and steamed broccoli.
  • Vegetarian chilli with kidney beans, black beans, tomatoes, and a variety of spices.
  • Whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce, vegetables, and lean ground turkey.

Mr Kolvekar advised: “As with any dietary recommendations, individual needs may vary, and it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalised advice based on your health status and dietary preferences.”

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