Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. According to the reports, one person dies every 36 seconds in the US from heart disease. About 659,000 people in the US die from heart disease every year.
If we add to lifestyle factors like not smoking and engaging in regular exercises, diet is one of the best ways that can help you to protect your heart. Because cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammation, and other heart disease risk factors are affected by your diet and what you are eating.
A diet rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, and fiber has been shown to help support heart health, whereas high intakes of processed meats and added sugar are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
On the flip side, many diets claim to support heart health. However, it is crucial to choose the one backed with scientific evidence and easy to maintain in the long run.
Here are the six best diets for heart health:
The Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional eating patterns for the people who lived in Southern Italy and Greece during the 1960s.
The diet emphasized minimally processed whole foods, including fish, legumes, vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, whole grains, and extra virgin olive oil. It also includes a moderate amount of poultry, red wine, low-fat dairy, and eggs.
The heart benefits of this diet are known to be largely due to its emphasis on healthy fats and minimally processed plant foods.
The DASH Diet
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, a.k.a. DASH, was designed to help treat and prevent high blood pressure. In turn, it helps to reduce the risk of heart disease. The diet recommends specific amounts of food groups based on the person’s calories need. It focuses on low-fat dairy, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats while limiting added sugars, refined grains, and red meat.
Vegetarian and vegan diets
Vegetarian and vegan diets come with eating patterns that help to eliminate all kinds of meat, including fish, red meat, and poultry. Few vegetarians include other sources of animal products like dairy and eggs, but vegans strictly avoid all the animal-derived ingredients, including gelatin, honey, bee pollen, eggs, and dairy.
The diet emphasizes seeds, nuts, whole grains, soy products, lentils, beans, vegetables, fruits, and plant-based oils.
The Flexitarian diet
The diet is an eating pattern that focuses mainly on plant food. It allows moderate amounts of dairy, fish, meat, and other animal products. It also encourages to get most of the plant-based proteins.
You are encouraged to eat mostly whole, minimally processed foods and limit or avoid added sugars, processed meats, refined grains, and other highly processed foods in the diet.
The main focus of this diet is to adhere to plant-based food that can help to lower the risk of heart diseases.
The TLC diet
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) developed the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet to help reduce the risk of strokes or heart disease.
It includes lifestyle and dietary recommendations to promote optimal cholesterol levels and healthy weights.
While there’s a limit in research, several studies reveal that the diet helps to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. The diet is thought to work by raising the intake of soluble fiber. It is found in foods like lentils, beans, seeds, nuts, oat bran, several vegetables, and fruits.
The diet also recommends a daily intake of plant sterols or stanols, naturally occurring compounds in foods like seeds, nuts, legumes, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
Low carb diets
You may think that low carb diet restricts the intake of carbs, but it also focuses on the intake of higher protein and fat than the usual Western diet. In addition, the diet tends to limit the foods like sugary snacks, potatoes, pasta, grains, bread, and beverages.
The diet helps boost heart health by reducing certain heart disease risk factors, including blood pressure levels, high triglycerides, obesity, and overweight, while helping to increase HDL (good) cholesterol.
When you choose a heart-healthy diet, you must never forget to consider the factors like scientific evidence, nutrition quality, easiness to follow, and if you can sustain it long term.
However, you must ensure that before you start on any diet, do not forget to consult your healthcare provider if the particular diet is the right choice for your needs.
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