A new research has find that a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, beans, and grains is the best diet to maintain a healthy heart.
The review was conducted by an American College of Cardiology (ACC) nutrition committee, they also examined the evidence on a few diet “hypes.”
From the results: Omega-3 fats and legumes (including beans, lentils and peas) have good evidence of heart benefits. Coffee and tea are also sensible choices as long as you cut down on the cream and sugar. Also, a full-fat dairy foods should most likely be avoided.
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Some other foods with heart benefits includes seaweed and fermented foods. Though little research has been done so far.
Lead author of the review, Dr. Andrew Freeman is not saying you should eat nothing but legumes, fish and coffee. Studies try to examine individual foods or food groups. But in everyday life, “it’s the overall diet that matters,” said Freeman, who directs cardiovascular prevention and wellness at National Jewish Health in Denver.
Freeman said the evidence supports a principally plant-based diet, without added sugars or processed foods. That means plenty of fruits, vegetables, fiber-rich grains, legumes and nuts. He emphasized on the importance of getting nutrients from whole foods rather than supplements.
“Whenever we try to pull something out of a plant, we never do it justice,” Freeman said.
A registered dietitian, Angela Lemond, who was not involved in the review, agreed. According to her;
“Supplements are just isolated nutrients, without the other beneficial food components created by nature.”
The review is in the July 31 Journal of American College of Cardiology. It’s the second one the ACC panel has done on “controversial nutrition trends.”
Freeman said many patients are beginning to realize that medications are great, but diet and lifestyle are equally critical.
However, there is a lot of conflicting information, and doctors usually have very little training in nutrition.
Freeman and his team looked at a few foods that patients often ask about for the review.
They discovered that some had strong evidence of heart benefits. For instance, legumes can help lower blood pressure, blood sugar and “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Also, omega-3 fatty acids from fish, or plant sources like flaxseeds and walnuts may help lower risk of heart disease when they are part of a nourishing diet.
With dairy foods, the evidence is diverse. However, the review found a number of studies suggesting that full-fat dairy products, which are high in saturated fat, can raise “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Freeman recommended avoiding full-fat dairy, while Lemond said low-fat, unsweetened dairy products can be healthy choices.
Freeman said people also ask about coffee and tea. His team found that in many studies, coffee lovers have shown slightly lower risks of heart disease than nondrinkers. And they found no evidence coffee raises blood pressure or triggers heart arrhythmias.
Likewise, a large study of Chinese adults found that those who drank black tea every day had a slightly lower risk of heart disease than nondrinkers.
“Coffee and tea may be beneficial, but without the cream and sugar,” Freeman said.
However, the research can’t prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship. Also, people should pay attention to caffeine, Lemond noted.
The recommended caffeine limit is around 400 milligrams a day or the equivalent of three 8-ounce cups of coffee.
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Freeman’s team also looked at some foods that have been gaining popularity among the health-conscious: seaweed, and fermented foods such as kimchi, yogurt, kombucha and spirulina.
A few small studies suggest those foods can help people lose weight or lower their cholesterol, the review found. However, there’s no much evidence to recommend them for decreasing heart disease risk, Freeman said.
He cited two foods that should strictly be avoided: “added sugar and energy drinks”.
Energy drinks contain large doses of caffeine and caffeine-containing compounds, which according to studies, have the tendency to cause blood to clot.
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