DIET RULES TO REDUCE YOUR HEART DISEASE RISK
The American Heart Association releases its list of the key components that make up a heart-healthy eating pattern.
It’s essential to start eating this way early in life and stick with it for the long term, heart experts say.TODAY Illustration / Getty Images
On Tuesday, the American Heart Association released its list of the 10 key components that make up a heart-healthy eating pattern.
The advice may sound familiar, but the scientific statement — published in the journal Circulation — focuses on “the balance, variety and combination of foods” people eat, rather than individual foods or nutrients.
“It does not need to be complicated, time consuming, expensive or unappealing,” said Alice Lichtenstein, chair of the scientific statement writing group and director of the cardiovascular nutrition team at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, in a statement. Read more about the best OTC weight loss pills.
“You can absolutely adapt a heart-healthy diet to different lifestyles, including one that incorporates eating out at restaurants. It might take a little planning, however, after the first few times it can become routine.”
It’s essential to start eating this way early in life and stick with it for the long term, the authors wrote.
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Here are their 10 recommendations:
1. Maintain a healthy weight throughout life
This means balancing food and calorie intake with physical activity. The authors advised a healthy dietary pattern that includes portion control coupled with at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. People should eat less as they age because daily energy needs decrease by up to 100 calories with each decade.
2. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
Diets rich in fruits and vegetables — whether fresh, frozen, canned or dried, but “with the exception for white potatoes” — are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, the authors noted. They recommended choosing deeply-colored produce such as leafy greens and peaches to get more nutrients.
It’s also better to eat whole fruits and vegetables than juice them because the whole form contains more fiber and makes a person feel fuller. It’s best to get a full range of nutrients from food rather than supplements.
3. Choose whole grains
Eating whole grains such as brown rice instead of refined grains such as white rice improves cardiovascular risk factors, studies show. Products made with at least 51% whole grains are typically classified as whole-grain.
4. Include healthy sources of protein
This means mostly protein from plants, such as legumes and nuts, which are also good sources of fiber. Legumes include soybeans (which can be in the form of edamame and tofu), lentils, chickpeas and split peas.
At this time, plant-based meat alternatives require “some caution” because many are ultra-processed and contain added sugar, saturated fat, salt, stabilizers and preservatives, the authors wrote.