According to the World Health Organization, heart-related diseases are among the biggest causes of death around the world, taking an estimated 17.9 million lives annually. High blood cholesterol causes build-ups in the artery walls (atherosclerosis) which slows or blocks blood flow to the heart muscles. This increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Heart disease is a concern for both men and women, but the risk for high cholesterol steadily increases with age. For this reason, it is imperative to adopt a healthy lifestyle that begins with choosing the best diets for your heart, to ensure your ticker is in tip-top shape. A great heart-friendly diet is particularly a big deal for people with existing heart conditions.
This article offers insights into various heart-healthy diets, their benefits, as well as foods to eat and avoid.
The Dash diet
The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute developed the dash diet (Dietary Approaches for Stopping Hypertension) to prevent hypertension. The diet emphasizes foods such as vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, whole grains/ It also incorporates low-fat dairy packed with pressure-deflating compounds like calcium, potassium, fibre, and proteins. Besides, the diet emphasizes taking the right food portions and discourages sugar-sweetened beverages and fatty foods.
Dean Ornish, the US-based Preventive Medicine Research Institute founder, created the Ornish diet in 1977. This diet is specially designed to help people live longer, feel better, lose weight and enhance health. The diet offers clear steps for preventing or reversing cardiovascular diseases through simple changes that have far-reaching results. According to Ornish, an ideal diet is one that is low in refined carbohydrates, fats, and animal proteins. Ornish diet predominantly advocates for plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, soy products, legumes, with options of egg whites and nonfat dairy. The Ornish diet also encourages physical exercises, relationships, and stress management.
Low carb diets
Low carb diets are great for heart health as they increase good cholesterol levels and decrease triglyceride levels. Research has shown that people on low carb diets can successfully lose excess weight just as they can on low-fat diets. The low carb diet recommends eating nutritious, whole, and unprocessed foods. However, the greatest impediment to a low carb lifestyle for many people today is limiting the intake of baked foods, most of which are sweet and savoury.
TLC diet is a healthy eating plan particularly designed to enhance the heart’s health by lowering cholesterol levels. The diet comprises a mix of lifestyle modifications and the diet itself. It also involves cutting back on fat and increasing the intake of healthy compounds such as plant sterols and soluble fibres. As aforementioned, the TLC diet pairs dietary modifications with lifestyle changes. These changes can be in the form of physical exercises to strengthen the heart muscles and to help in weight management.
The Flexitarian diet emphasizes an eating pattern that incorporates plant foods and moderate amounts of dairy, fish, meat, and other animal proteins. The diet’s name is simply a combination of vegetarianism and flexibility. It gives a more flexible approach to vegetarianism. This flexibility allows people to reap the benefits of fruits, whole grains, and vegetables without necessarily ditching animal products entirely. A Flexitarian diet does not have clear rules on the number of calories and macronutrients to take. Owing to its flexible nature, the diet is popular among people looking to improve their heart health.
There is no doubt that a proper diet is great for your heart health. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. For better results, eating plans can be individualized and supported with other healthy habits. It is important to exercise regularly, avoid or quit smoking, and minimize stress. Over time, a heart-friendly diet and a healthy lifestyle will help you maintain moderate weight, and in turn, reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.