Note: There’s a surprising addition to the list.

  • A new research study has nailed down six foods that may help reduce the risks of heart disease, leading to better heart health.
  • This study also presented details about how much of each food to eat per week.

Do you know the leading cause of death in the U.S. Yes, you guessed it right. So lowering the risk of developing heart disease, including eating the right diet, is the primary concern for most people worldwide. Now, a new research study has nailed down six foods that may help reduce the risks of heart disease, leading to better heart health.

This particular research study was published in the European Heart Journal. It examined data from 245,000 people who participated in the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study, analyzing the foods they ate and their heart disease risk. The researchers observed that people who consumed greater amounts of fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, fish, and whole-fat dairy had a lower risk of heart problems and death compared to those who didn’t focus on those foods.

Note: Including whole-fat dairy is somewhat controversial and discussed in detail later in this article.

During a follow-up of 9.3 years, 15,707 deaths and 40,764 cardiovascular incidents were found in the study participants. People who followed the healthiest diet had a 30% lower risk of death, 18% lower likelihood of cardiovascular disease, 14% lower risk of myocardial infarction, and 19% lower risk of stroke than those with the least healthy diet.

The researchers also identified how many servings in a day were most beneficial for participants, providing some inspiring takeaways for people. Here’s what the study noted and why these foods are so helpful.

The study  found:

At baseline, the study discovered that the following foods are best for heart health:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Fish
  • Whole-fat dairy

The researchers also discovered that a particular eating pattern and number of servings is best. Here’s the detail:

  • Vegetables: two to three servings per day
  • Fruit: two to three servings per day
  • Whole-fat dairy: two servings per day
  • Nuts: seven servings per week
  • Legumes: three to four servings per week
  • Fish: two to three servings per week

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Why Are These Foods Claimed To Be Helpful For Heart Health?

The recommended foods primarily, in fact, matched with what the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends for a healthy eating pattern. Those include:

  • A variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains and products made of mostly whole grains
  • Healthy sources of protein, such as legumes, nuts, fish, seafood, and low-fat or non-fat dairy
  • Liquid non-tropical vegetable oils
  • Minimally processed foods
  • Minimized intake of added sugars
  • Foods prepared with little or no salt
  • No or limited alcohol

Fresh foods with as few preservatives as possible are more heart-healthy. Generally, the less the foods are processed, the more heart-healthy they are.

In fact, the foods the researchers discovered to be heart-healthy aren’t surprising—all of the above-listed foods have been known to be healthy for generations. But what new thing this research found is that the best thing for heart health is to eat all of these foods all the time.

Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are high in fiber.  From the perspective of your heart health, fiber helps manage cholesterol levels. The soluble fiber in these foods binds to cholesterol and ushers it out of the body.

Moreover, fiber improves digestion. It acts as the broom of the stomach. It helps keep you full, which prevents you from mindless snacking. That, in turn, reduces the risk of getting overweight or obese—both linked to poor heart health.

Foods like nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocado oil, and oily fish have healthy fats like monounsaturated fatty acids, which can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Plus, many of these foods have anti-inflammatory elements.

In fact, these foods are components of the Mediterranean diet. Nuts and fish are high in fats.

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One Controversy In The List Of Healthy Heart Foods

The full-fat dairy recommendation is controversial. The American Heart Association particularly recommends having low-fat or no-fat dairy. Many health experts say full-fat dairy is not something to be scared of. They explain that full-fat dairy is more satiating. They have higher fat content, so they tend to slow digestion, contribute to stabilizing blood sugar levels, and keep you full for longer.

In general, low-fat dairy is recommended because it’s low in saturated fat, and the typical recommendation for protecting heart health is to cut down on saturated fat intake. But, the research on dairy fat and heart health is very mixed.

Experts point out that the diet included in this study may have been recommended incorporating full-fat dairy for balance. This diet tends to be very low in energy—calories— due to the large intake of fruit and vegetables. Without full-fat dairy, it becomes hard to get the calories you need daily.

That said, however, you must be mindful of your portion sizes. Despite being delicious, you must watch out to have whole-fat dairy products in reasonable quantities. You can include yogurt, cheese, and milk. It is all right for these to be high in fat as long as you keep their serving size reasonable.

The most prominent aspect of this diet for heart health is the increase in potassium intake than a traditional Western diet. Potassium is known to lower blood pressure by inducing the kidneys to excrete sodium.

Related Article: Habits That Damage Your Heart

How To Eat A Heart-Healthy Diet?

Experts say eating well to support heart health is not as complicated as you think. Keep it simple. Adjust your meals and snacks so that the amount of fruit and/or vegetables are at least two times the amount of starch or protein.

The goal should be to incorporate “good, whole ingredients” in your diet.

Fitness Buffhq suggests putting “lots of vegetables on the plate, lots of whole foods, oily fish, limiting processed and red meat.”

If you can tolerate dairy, including a little high-quality, full-fat dairy may be good for the heart. And indeed, if you’re concerned about coming up with a heart-healthy diet considering your specific conditions, it can be helpful to consult your doctor or a registered dietitian for personalized guidance.

Know Your Risk Of Heart Disease

A Treasure Of Information To Keep You Fit As You Age

About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. HeJust Fitness Hub passed Personal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, USA obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says, ” Age is just a number!”

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