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Cardiovascular diet checklist


Use this diet checklist to help you and your patient assess the quality of their diet and identify which improvements could be made to help optimise cholesterol-lowering and heart health. It should take no longer than five minutes to complete.

Download our diet checklist 

Go to our updated simplified online diet quizzes

About the HEART UK Cardiovascular diet checklist

Diet is one of the key modifiable risk factors for lipid management and has a pivotal role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. All guidelines for lipid management recommend advising on a heart healthy eating pattern.

Dietary patterns that have higher intakes of fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, fish, vegetable oils, and wholegrains, along with a lower intake of red and processed meats, foods higher in refined carbohydrates, and salt, are associated with a lower incidence of cardiovascular events. These patterns are low in saturated fats and added sugars, and contain good amounts of unsaturated fats, fibre, whole grains and other plant compounds. Based on the totality of the evidence, this optimal combination helps to improve heart health by reducing cardiovascular risk factors – including lowering blood lipids.

Healthy dietary patterns can be achieved in a variety of ways and it can sometimes be a challenge to quickly identify if a patient is adopting these principles. To address this, HEART UK has designed a Cardiovascular diet checklist to help you and your patient assess the quality of their diet, and determine where improvements can be made.

Download HEART UK's Cardiovascular diet checklist


Instructions for use:

Step 1 - complete the questionnaire

  • Explain the purpose of going through the checklist with the patient.
  • You can ask them to make a start on their own whilst waiting for an appointment.
  • Work through all 16 questions. The first six questions focus on saturated fats and unsaturated fats.
  • The answers should be either a YES or a NO. If the answer is YES, tick the box. If the answer is NO, leave the box unticked.  
  • If needed, use the guidance notes on page 2 for further clarification on each of the questions.

Step 2 – calculate the score 

  • Add up all the ticks. The maximum score is 16.
  • For any questions answered YES with a tick, congratulate the patient for already adopting healthier choices, stating which choices these are.

Step 3 – assess how healthy the diet is

Depending on the score, the diet can be categorised as:

  • 6 or less OR only 3 ticks for Qs 1-6 = Improvements needed and dietetic or more intense advice is essential.
  • 7-11 OR only 3 ticks for Qs 1-6 = Fair. Improvements can still be made.
  • 12 or more and at least 4 ticks for Qs 1-6 = Good to very good.  The patient can still fine tune and potentially add to their routine 3 cholesterol-lowering foods.

Eating the right balance of fat is of primary importance, so Qs 1-6 take priority as these focus on saturated and unsaturated fat intakes.

Step 4 – provide advice

  • Ask the patient to consider any unticked questions and highlight that making these adjustments will be good for cholesterol-lowering
  • Try and focus the patient’s attention on any unticked Qs 1-6.
  • Ask them to consider which one or two they may like to tackle and incorporate into their daily routine first. Remind them it’s important to tackle just one or two dietary changes at a time, and once they have been adopted, they can consider making further changes.
  • Use the advice on page 3 to help set goals with your patient. Recommendations are provided for each question number they wish to tackle.

For any patient scoring 11 or less and/or only 3 ticks for Qs 1-6 – and if your practice has the facility – ask the patient if they would be happy to be referred to a dietitian or return for more advice and monitoring.

Refer them to HEART UK's website for further information on healthy living.

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