The heart is a finely tuned machine, to keep it functioning in the best form you need to fuel it with the right kind of heart-healthy foods. Heart disease is a silent killer and the leading cause of death globally. To optimise heart health, you need to adopt a disciplined lifestyle like involving in regular exercise and not smoking, but of all these a healthier diet is one of the best ways to safeguard your heart. Because inflammation, uncontrolled blood pressure, high cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease are affected by what you eat. Especially a diet packed with fibre, healthy fats and antioxidants have proven to uplift heart health, whereas a high intake of sugary foods, processed meats and junk foods are linked with an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases.
Several diets claim to support heart health, however, it’s essential to choose one that is backed by science and easy to sustain. Read through this article to know about the best diet plans for better heart function and health.
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The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes on choosing whole foods including whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, and virgin olive oil. It allows to add moderate quantities of poultry, eggs, low fat dairy and red wine. While it totally refrains adding sugar, refined carbs, highly processed foods and snacks, red and processed meats. The diet is based on the traditional eating habits of people residing in Greece and Italy.
Several studies claims that the Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, as well as risk factors like dyslipidaemia, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. It also reduced overall risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality by 40%. The benefits of this diet are believed to be largely due to its importance on having whole grains, minimally processed plant foods and healthy fats. These foods are credited to possess potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory traits that reduce inflammation, combat oxidative stress and boost heart health.
The DASH Diet
The DASH diet means Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, which was formulated to help prevent and treat high blood pressure, which in turn also reduces the risk of heart disease. This diet suggests including food groups based on calorie needs and pays attention to whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and lean meats. While it restricts red meat, refined grains and added sugars. Furthermore, the DASH diet limits sodium intake to 2300mg (1 teaspoon) per day and a lower salt pattern limit to 1500 mg (3.4 teaspoons) per day. For people with hypertension reducing sodium intake has significantly controlled blood pressure, when combined with the DASH diet. As the diet emphasis eating fibre rich foods and avoiding sugars and saturated fat, it may have a positive impact on heart health.
Vegan and Vegetarian Diets
Vegan and vegetarian diets are eating patterns that eliminate all meat, including poultry, red meat, and fish. However, a few vegetarians have animal products like eggs, dairy and dairy products though vegans completely steer clear of all animal-derived products such as dairy, eggs, bee pollen, honey and gelatin. The diet mainly focuses on adding fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, soy products, whole grains, nuts, seeds and plant-based oils and healthy fats.
Plant-based diets are credited to have numerous health benefiting properties and potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, which remarkably reduce high cholesterol and blood pressure levels, manages weight and diabetes, and optimise cardiac wellness.
The Flexitarian Diet
The Flexitarian Diet is an eating pattern that keenly focuses on plant foods but also permits moderate amounts of lean meat, fish, dairy, and other animal products. It usually, promotes getting most of the protein from plant sources. There is no set rule on how much or how often one should have animal products, it mostly depends on preferences. Comparing with a strict vegan diet, the Flexitarian Diet may be more practical for people who want heart benefits of a plant-based diet without limiting meat and other animal products.
Low Carb Diets
Low carb diets not only limits carb intake but it is high in protein and healthy fats. This diet pattern totally avoids bread, grains, pasta, potatoes, sugary snacks and beverages. About 10-40% of calories are allowed from carbs per day. Research reveals that low carbs diet may augment heart health by lowering heart disease risk factors including overweight, high triglycerides and blood pressure levels while increasing good cholesterol (HDL).
The quality of a low carb diet should be maintained, and it should contain enough dietary fibre from plant foods like vegetables, and stresses on adding healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, minimally processed plant oils and fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids. As some studies disclose that all low carbs diet is not heart healthy.