There are few basic principles to a healthy heart: don’t smoke, reduce stress, exercise, and eat healthy. Easy, right? Well, these fundamentals of heart health may be simple, but heart disease continues to be America’s number one killer. Obesity rates are rising, Americans are living sedentary lifestyles, and we are more stressed than ever, working long hours and not getting enough sleep. Even if you have difficulty controlling your stress, you can still try to be more active and eat better.
Diet is an important contributing factor to your heart health – and it’s a modifiable one. In a recent study, researchers developed evidence-based dietary recommendations for heart health. (Miracle fruit lowers cholesterol in 30 days.)
The research team from the non-profit organization Physicians Committee reviewed countless studies on food and heart health. Based on their review, the researchers suggest that leafy greens, berries, and plants proteins –found in lentils and beans – can all greatly benefit our heart health, as they can help reduce blood pressure, break down arterial plaque to prevent and lower the risk of atherosclerosis, and stabilize blood sugar. These foods should be eaten in their whole form rather than blended into a smoothie or pureed.
Other recommendations include moderating your consumption of canola oil, sunflower oil, and nuts. Even though they contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, their calorie count is quite high. (Science-backed nutrient that delivers total cardiovascular health results you can feel.)
Dietary cholesterol should also be moderated, and a Southern style diet, which is high in fat, fried and processed food, and sugar-laden beverages, should be avoided at all costs, too.
Gluten should only be avoided if a person has an allergy or celiac disease (which only seems to affect up to six percent of the population).
Lead researcher Neal Barnard concluded, “It’s no surprise people are confused about what constitutes a heart-healthful diet. With thousands of studies published each year, we get contradictory headlines. We collaborated on this review to provide a real-time prescription based on the best available peer-reviewed research. In addition to eating colorful, plant-based foods, it’s important to make time for sleep, exercise, and stress management, which could come in the form of social support or even listening to music.”
Related: 16 superfoods for a healthy heart