Healthy eating: mind the gap

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Vegetables being chopped.
Most Australians say they are concerned about how healthy the food they buy is, and think their diet is healthy, yet in reality the proportion of people who meet recommended dietary guidelines is disturbingly low. This is concerning because poor diet is the leading risk factor for death and disability from heart disease.

With National Nutrition Week beginning on Sunday, Heart Foundation dietitian Sian Armstrong has highlighted the gap between perception and reality.

“Ninety per cent of respondents to a recent Heart Foundation survey said that they prepare meals at home, and most of them rely on recipes to do so,” she said.

“And the biggest factor that influences recipe selection is how healthy it is – ahead of ease of cooking, and taste.

“On the face of it, this is terrific news.

“But when we asked about the number of fruit and vegetables people usually eat each day, we found that most people don’t eat the recommended five or more serves of vegetables or the recommended two serves of fruit.

“Yet it’s so easy to get more vegetables in by adding them to tasty recipes and using them as snacks. Begin with an extra serve or two and aim to reach the recommended minimum five serves of veggies and two serves of fruit.

“Try the Heart Foundation website for some suggestions – we have just updated the recipe section and added loads more quick and simple meals that will help you when you’re next stuck for suggestions,” said Ms Armstrong.

The Heart Foundation says that heart-healthy eating patterns are based on a combination of foods, chosen regularly over time, including:

  • fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • a variety of healthy protein sources including fish and seafood, lean meat and poultry, legumes, nuts and seeds
  • reduced-fat dairy such as unflavoured milk and yoghurt, and cheese
  • healthy fat choices – nuts, seeds, avocados, olives and their oils for cooking
  • herbs and spices to flavour foods, instead of salt.

Get more tips to eat well and enjoy your food at the same time

For media queries contact Debora McInnes, Media Adviser Nutrition, 0423 827 697,

Heart Foundation. Consumer research 2018, Heart healthy products and heart-healthy recipes. 18 years and older.