Eat more whole foods, less salt: The American Heart Association publishes updated dietary advice

Instead of focusing on individual nutrients or foods, the American Heart Association (AHA) has published guidelines for “overall dietary patterns” to improve heart health.

That 2021 Dietary Guidelines for Improving Cardiovascular Health has been published in the journal Circulation. This is the first time since 2006 that the guidelines have been updated.

Poor diet quality is strongly associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality. This scientific statement underscores the importance of dietary patterns in addition to individual foods or nutrients, emphasizes the critical role nutrition plays early in life, presents elements of heart-healthy dietary patterns, and highlights structural challenges that hinder adherence to heart-healthy dietary patterns, “the scientific opinion noted. from the AHA.

The guideline includes these points

* Adjust energy intake and consumption to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
* Eat lots of different fruits and vegetables;
*Choose whole grain foods and products
* Choose healthy protein sources (mostly plants; regular intake of seafood; low-fat or low-fat dairy products; and if meat or poultry is desired, choose lean cuts and unprocessed forms)
* Use liquid vegetable oils rather than tropical oils and partially hydrogenated fats;
* Choose minimally processed foods instead of ultra-processed foods;
* Minimize the intake of beverages and foods with added sugar;
* Choose and prepare food with little or no salt;
* If you do not drink alcohol, do not start; if you choose to drink alcohol, limit your intake; and

Why does diet matter?

A changed and hectic lifestyle with easy availability of ready meals has led to irregular meals and frequent snacks on energy-dense ready-to-use foods rather than traditional homemade food, experts say.

In modern times, the intake of processed and ready-to-eat foods and healthy drinks has changed people’s perception of food as well as their dietary behavior, Dr. Siddhant Bhargava, fitness and nutritionist, co-founder of Food Darzee.

“Based on science, the updated guidelines place great emphasis on diet along with physical exercise. They also provide recommendations from birth to older adults in Asian Indians. This includes a reduction in carbohydrate intake, preferential intake of complex carbohydrates, higher fiber intake, slightly higher protein intake, lower salt intake, limited sugar intake, etc., which will help curb the increasing incidence of cardiovascular disease, obesity, the metabolic syndrome, to name a few . This nutritional transition has the potential to cause diet-related non-communicable diseases as well as obesity, ”he said.

The opinion also mentioned how compliance with this guide is crucial “no matter where the food is prepared or consumed”.

“Challenges that hinder adherence to heart-healthy dietary patterns include targeted marketing of unhealthy foods, segregation in neighborhoods, food and nutritional insecurity, and structural racism. Creating an environment that facilitates, rather than inhibits, adherence heart-healthy diet patterns “Among all individuals, there is a public health imperative,” the statement said.

genetic composition, genes, genetics, genes and health, genes and nutrition, nutritional needs, health and wellness, indian express news How is your diet? (Source: Getty Images / Thinkstock)

“The need of the hour is to disseminate information on how diet is an important factor in the prevention of coronary heart disease. And another low saturated fat, fibrous, high plant food diet can significantly reduce the risk of developing heart disease, ”said Dr. Bhargava.

Every time food is prepared at home or ordered online, one should check for ingredients included in the manufacture as sodium, added sugar and fats, mentioned Rutu Dhodapkar, Dietetic Department, PD Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Center, Khar.

“When buying food, read the label carefully for ingredients and date of manufacture and expiration. Always buy foods with the latest date of manufacture and eat before expiration. Keep an eye on sodium levels mentioned on products. Include low-fat diets filled with antioxidants like berries that has anthocyanins that protect against oxidative stress and inflammation and help tackle heart disease.Avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated fats that help reduce cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease.Include Omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna “Vegetarian sources are chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts,” said Dhodapkar.

But despite strong evidence showing the potential health benefits of foods, nutrients, bioactive compounds and dietary antioxidants can affect cardiovascular risk factors or directly on its development, said Dr. Bhargava, how “it is necessary to carry out more interventional investigations with a higher number of cases, rigorous investigations and longer follow-ups”.

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