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Heart Healthy Diet a Comprehensive Approach to Fight Heart Conditions

When it comes to heart health, we all know that eating certain food items can increase the risk of heart attack. For most of us, changing our eating behavior becomes difficult. Our years of unhealthy eating habits make fine-tuning our diet difficult.


Diets containing high amounts of ultra-processed foods and added sugar can inversely impact our heart health and cause an increased risk of health conditions like high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. A healthy diet regimen can help improve heart health and protect against various heart ailments.


After decades of extensive research, scientists have narrowed down to the diet patterns associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Let us discuss these dietary patterns in detail.


The Mediterranean diet

When it comes to negating various heart conditions, the Mediterranean diet is one of the most researched diets. It is a famous dietary pattern in the people living in countries on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, including southern France, Spain, Italy, and Greece.


These dietary patterns have abundant plant-based foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seafood, and olive oil. Mediterranean diets are low in ultra-processed foods, added sugar, and red and processed meats. The diet may also include a moderate quantity of low-fat dairy poultry, red wine, and eggs.


Various studies have associated the Mediterranean diet with a reduced risk of heart conditions and risk factors like

  • High Cholesterol Level
  • High Triglyceride Levels
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure

According to a review of eleven studies published in the National Library of Medicine, the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of heart-related mortality and morbidity by 40%. The research community believes that the benefits of this diet regimen lie in its emphasis on minimally processed plant foods with healthy fats.


A journal published in the National Library of Medicine establishes that extra virgin oil rich in monounsaturated fats with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can significantly decrease the risk of cardiac conditions.


According to another review article published in the National Library of Medicine, a higher intake of olive oil but not other MUFA can significantly decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke.


One more research confirmed that people following a Mediterranean diet pattern have lower incidences of cardiovascular conditions than people following a western dietary pattern.


The DASH Diet


DASH means Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This dietary regimen may help prevent and manage high blood pressure, thus reducing the risk of heart disease. The DASH diet doesn't require strict adherence to a list of food items. It focuses on the consumption of food groups based on your calorie needs. It recommends the consumption of

  • Whole Grains
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Low-Fat Dairy
  • Lean Meats

It limits the consumption of red meat, added sugars, and refined grains.


DASH diet also recommends limiting your sodium intake to three fourth to one teaspoon per day. The reduced sodium intake is healthy for a person with high blood pressure and is more impactful when combined with the DASH diet.


According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, the DASH diet significantly reduces the risk of blood pressure, increased waist circumference, obesity, insulin resistance, and cholesterol levels.


An Umbrella Review and meta-analysis of seven reviews published in the National Library of Medicine, states that the DASH diet can reduce the risk of heart disease by 20%, stroke by 19%, and type 2 diabetes by 18%.


Plant-based diets

The plant-based diets, including vegetarian and vegan, have a positive association with heart health and decrease heart disease risk.


In 2021, a review of four lac people confirmed that adherence to a plant-based diet caused an eight percent reduction in heart disease-related mortality and a ten percent reduction in heart condition development.


But remember, all plant-based diets do not provide the above benefits.


Plant-based diets with highly refined grains, processed snacks, and sugar-sweetened beverages can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.


The TLC diet

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) curated a diet called Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes which can reduce the risk of various heart conditions and stroke.


This diet includes dietary and lifestyle recommendations to achieve healthy cholesterol levels and body weight.


The various aspects of the TLC diet are:

  • 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise at least five days a week
  • Cutting down 25–35% of calories from fat
  • No more than 7% of total saturated fats in your daily calories
  • Limiting daily dietary cholesterol to 200 mg
  • Eating 10–25 grams of soluble fiber per day
  • Consuming at least 2 grams of plant sterols


The TLC diet requires an increased intake of soluble fiber in seeds, lentils, oat bran, nuts, beans, lentils, fruits, and vegetables.
A high intake of soluble fiber is associated with a decreased risk of heart conditions.

What food items can improve heart health?

Specific foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and fish can improve heart health and reduce your risk of developing heart disease.


Remember that diet, as a whole, has a significant effect on heart health, but regularly consuming these healthy foods can promote your well-being.


Fruits - Beneficial for your heart health. Apple, citrus fruits, pears, and berries are cardioprotective and have a high quantity of vitamins, fibers, antioxidants, and minerals.


Vegetables -  Diet can improve your heart health. Onions, leafy green vegetables, carrots, garlic, and cruciferous vegetables have higher cardiac benefits when compared with other vegetables.


Seafood - Plates of seafood are high in omega-3 fats that benefit cardiovascular health.
According to a review study, a 100-gram increase in fish consumption can lower the risk of heart attack, coronary heart disease, and heart failure.


Legumes - Beans and lentils have plenty of fiber and minerals like potassium and magnesium. These minerals are essential for healthy cardiovascular health.


Whole Grains - Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats are rich in fiber and other nutrients that can improve heart health.


Healthy Fats and Spices- Healthy fats like olive oil and spices like turmeric, saffron, garlic, and ginger may reduce incidences of heart disease.


A healthy diet intake and limiting your consumption of foods that can cause heart disease can take care of your circulatory system and reduce your risk of heart disease. But never ignore the importance of regular health checkups and an active lifestyle for holistic cardiac care.

Dr Shamshad Alam
Cardiac Care
Meet The Doctor
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