09:30 Monday 16 September 2013

Freshers urged towards first class heart-health

Written byHeart Research UK

Living away from home can be both an exciting and perhaps daunting time for students. For many, it will be the first time they do their own shopping and cooking.

Nutrition among students is often poor as they rely on convenience foods and take-aways that are high in salt and saturated fat, which can raise blood pressure and cholesterol levels and increase the risk of developing heart disease.   

Healthy eating doesn’t have to break the bank; and that’s why national heart charity, Heart Research UK are urging all students to get into good eating habits with cheap and nutritious meals.

They’ve come up with a few tricks to stretch even the tightest of budgets and provide a heart-healthy diet that will keep you alert and energised throughout the day and into the night:

  • Work out how much you can afford to spend on food each week; stick to your budget by planning your meals for the week ahead and making a list of the ingredients you’ll need. This will help prevent you from buying on impulse.
  • Look at supermarket own brands which can be less expensive and lower in fat and salt compared with well-known brands. Compare prices across local supermarkets in your area and bulk buy on current offers or promotions, but remember that special offers may not always be the healthiest.
  • Make quick and healthy meals for kids in an instantMake meals from scratch that you can freeze in serving-sized portions; this will help save money and avoid wasting food. Keep whole-meal sliced bread frozen and just thaw what you need, when you need it.
  • Make use of canned and dried beans and pulses; they are versatile, inexpensive and excellent sources of protein.
  • Look out for a local market where you may find cheaper fruit, veg, fish and poultry. Buy fresh fruit and veg in season and as you need it, so it stays fresh and nutrient-rich. Remember to stock up on frozen, tinned or dried fruit and veg that’ll last longer and still count towards your 5-a-day.
  • Instead of buying lunch in the university canteen or local snack bar which may offer tempting, but often expensive food, make your own pack up which you can tuck into wherever and whenever you want.

The main points to remember are to eat lots of fruit and vegetables and to keep fatty and sugary food to a minimum. Don’t overdo the alcohol or be tempted by peer pressure to start smoking, and if you do smoke, take this opportunity of a new start in life to quit and save up some well needed student funds.

Make the most of your student life and enjoy the experience - include some physical activity every day by joining the university gym or one of the university sports clubs and graduate with a first class heart as well as a well-deserved degree.

For more information and advice about healthy living, contact Heart Research UK via email lifestyle@heartresearch.org.uk.

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