It's World Heart Day this week and the ideal time to double check that we’re looking after our hearts. Keeping active is one of the most fun parts of it. But the good news is, your diet can also really benefit your heart – even if you already have a heart condition.

Thankfully it’s not too complicated. All you have to do is aim for a balanced diet, naturally packed full of nutrient-rich ingredients. So when choosing your ready meals make sure they often include: 

- plenty of fruit and vegetables
- plenty of starchy foods
- low fat milk and dairy
- some meat and fish, or eggs, beans and other non-dairy protein sources
- lower fat, salt and sugar values

Let’s take a closer look at the food groups and how they should ideally feature in your diet – as well as plenty of ideas for home delivered meals that will help keep your heart fit and healthy.

1. A rainbow of fruit and veg

These are great for your heart because of what they do contain, and because of what they dont. Fruit and vegetables are high in minerals and antioxidants, and low in fat and cholesterol – all good for a healthy heart. So just remember to fill your plate with a colourful variety because, with this food group, quantity IS quality.

Try our meals such as Cottage Pie and Turkey Roast which come with a great selection of tender veg. We also have plenty of tasty side dishes to help you add more greens to every sitting – you’ll find these in our Vegetarian section.

2. Good fats, bad fats

A lot of the latest research says that, to look after your heart, it’s important to include some fats in your diet. As long as they’re the right fats. The advice is to replace saturated fats with small amounts of mono- and polyunsaturated fats. You can replace butter with margarine or olive oil every so often, snack on nuts, and eat more dark coloured, ‘fatty fish’ such as tuna, salmon and mackerel. It’s also good to cut down on foods containing ‘trans fats’. So that includes reducing how much red meat you eat.

Fortunately we simplify all that for you with a huge array of hearty meals, ideal for independent living – so you needn’t sacrifice taste when avoiding ‘bad fats’. Just look out for the heart symbol when choosing your ready meals in our brochure and on our website. You’ll find it on mouthwatering meals like our Beef in Chianti and Chicken Breast Platter with gravy. For afters, we offer plenty of low calorie options from delectable Sorbets, to Rice Pudding, and Apple and Cinnamon Pudding.

3. Fabulous fish

If fish isn’t already a part of your diet, do your heart a favour and eat it once, or preferably twice a week. Evidence firmly shows that people who eat fish regularly are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Just make sure that when you do eat fish, it’s not always smothered in a rich creamy sauce, or deep-fried in batter.

Our heart-friendly options include truly scrumptious Smoked Haddock Chowder, Seafood Paella and Cod in Parsley.

4. How to enjoy starchy food and fibre

Breads, cereals, grains and starchy vegetables are beneficial staples in many of our diets. And for heart health it’s important to choose the right type and eat the right amounts. ‘Soluble fibre’ is said to reduce bad cholesterol. So choose wholegrain options – such as by changing from low-fibre breakfast cereals to whole oats. And instead of deep-fried chips, opt for a baked potato.

Our meals always contain a balanced serving of starches. These are some of our favourite sides, which will add both fibre and flavour to mealtimes: Jacket Potatoes, Carrot, Swede & Horseradish Mash, and Parisienne Potatoes. You can also try featuring flavoursome dishes like Ratatouille and Vegetable Hotpot at your table – to up your fibre and create more balanced mealtimes.

5. Easy on the salt

Luckily, most of us are already very aware of the risks of eating too much salt. High salt intake increases the risk of developing high blood pressure. And having high blood pressure increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease.

The good news is, we have plenty of low salt meals to choose from that are simply gorgeous – from traditional Venison Casserole to classic Hunter’s Chicken. You’ll also find all of these lists on our handy Low Salt list for your convenience.

A big part of eating to benefit your heart is variety. So explore the full range of heart-friendly recipes from our home meals service and discover how simple, affordable and enjoyable it can be to eat well.