Photo: Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash / Unsplash
The cardiovascular diseases remain the leading cause of death in the world, which causes 18.6 million deaths per year. Fortunately, every day we have more tools that bring us closer to better control and prevention. Not in vain the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization, in conjunction with the World Heart Federation and the support of UNESCO, designated in 2000 the day September 29 as the first World Heart Day. Undoubtedly a powerful initiative worldwide that invites us to take different measures that protect our cardiovascular health, through awareness, prevention and good management of cardiovascular diseases. And without a doubt, in addition to lifestyle factors like exercising regularly and not smoking, diet is one of the best ways to protect your heart.
The quality of the food we eat plays a key role in preventing inflammation, hypertension, high cholesterol, being overweight and obese, and other risk factors for heart disease. In particular, it has been shown that diets rich in fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants help support heart health, while high intake of added sugar and processed meats is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. While there are numerous dietary recommendations that relate to benefits to support heart health, it is important to choose a diet that is backed by scientific evidence and is easy to maintain in the long term. Based on this, we took on the task of selecting the best 4 food trends to protect the heart and prevent all kinds of diseases.
1. The Mediterranean diet
By now we all know that currently the Mediterranean diet has positioned itself as the most sustainable and healthy lifestyle in the long term, however it is a very traditional lifestyle that has been accompanying women for many years. people who lived in Greece and southern Italy since the 1960s. In general, the diet emphasizes minimally processed whole foods, including whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, and extra virgin olive oil. It also includes moderate amounts of poultry, eggs, low-fat dairy, and red wine. Plus, eliminate added sugars, refined carbohydrates, highly processed snacks, and red and processed meats. It is a lifestyle that promotes enjoyment of life through traditions, customs and the use of delicious local ingredients. Today there are numerous studies that associate the Mediterranean diet with a lower risk of heart disease and its main risk factors such as high cholesterol and triglycerides, obesity, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. There is an interesting and relevant review of 11 studies, in which it was found that following a Mediterranean eating plan reduced the overall risk of heart disease incidence and mortality by 40%. The heart benefits of this diet are believed to be due in large part to its emphasis on consuming minimally processed whole plant foods and healthy fats, such as the monounsaturated ones that are associated with cardioprotective properties (as is the particular case of olive oil). Additionally, these fats have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
2. The DASH diet
The DASH diet is one of the most popular and oldest schemes to treat various cardiovascular diseases, its name means: Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and it was designed to help prevent and treat hypertension or high blood pressure. Over the years, experts have discovered that it is, in turn, a dietary method that in turn reduces the risk of heart disease. Like the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet does not require a strict food list; Nevertheless recommends specific amounts from food groups based on caloric needs. And it promotes the intake of healthy foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and lean meats, while limiting red meat, refined grains, and added sugars. In particular, it recommends that limit sodium intake to 1 teaspoon (2,300 mg) per day, and a stricter version in salt recommends no more than 3/4 teaspoon (1,500 mg) per day. It is worth mentioning that the diet makes special emphasis on foods rich in fiber, such as whole grains and vegetables, and the elimination of added sugars and saturated fat can also contribute to its effects on heart health. There are scientific references showing that the DASH diet reduces risk factors for heart disease such as blood pressure, obesity, waist circumference, cholesterol levels and insulin resistance. More specifically, it has been proven that the DASH diet is a method that reduces the risk of heart disease by 20%, a 19% reduction in the risk of stroke and an 18% reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes.
3. Vegan and vegetarian diets
In recent years, vegan and vegetarian diets have been positioned as the best food options to gain health and prevent diseases. Broadly speaking, vegan and vegetarian diets are eating patterns that eliminate all meat, including poultry, red meat, and fish. The truth is that they can vary, that is, some vegetarians include other sources of animal products, such as eggs and dairy, vegans strictly avoid all ingredients of animal origin, including dairy, eggs, bee pollen, honey and gelatin. Rather, these are diets that emphasize the consumption of fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, soy products, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and plant-based oils and fats. Of course, their high content in plant foods makes them diets with a long list of health benefits. Which is related to his high content of fiber, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, all of which aid heart health. Additionally, regular consumption of whole-grain soy products like tofu is associated with heart benefits. There are also several references, in which it was found that diets characterized by the intake of soy protein significantly reduce LDL (bad) and total cholesterol levels. Several other reviews have found that vegetarian and vegan diets significantly improve risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol and blood pressure, being overweight and obese, and uncontrolled blood sugar levels.
4. The flexitarian diet
The flexitarian diet has positioned itself as a good alternative, thanks to its flexibility that makes it more sustainable in the long term. It was created by dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, it is an eating pattern that focuses on plant foods but allows moderate amounts of meat, fish, dairy, and other animal products. Although your main mission is to get most of your protein from plant foods, best of all, there is no set rule about how much or how often you should eat animal products, it will all depend on what you eat. tastes and preferences. He encourages his followers to eat mainly whole and whole foods, limits processed and added sugars, refined cereals, processed meats. It is a scheme that is linked to greater adherence to plant-based diets and for the same reason is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. In addition, the fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, which the diet encourages, have been linked to improvements in risk factors for heart disease.
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