5 Best Diets to Maintain Heart Health

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Heart diseases seem to be the most common around the world these days, becoming one of the leading causes of middle age mortality. As per the CDC, 659,000 people die every year in the U.S. due to cardiovascular diseases. Keeping this stat in mind, there is scope for major changes in one’s lifestyle to bring this number down. While the reason for just a humongous mortality rate ranges from a person’s sex, race and ethnicity to their existing helath conditions and lifestyle choices, not everything is in our hands. As individuals, however, our first step should be towards bringing change into our daily routines, starting from what we consume. 

5 Best Diets to Maintain Heart Health

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In this article, let’s discuss some of the most appropriate diets to help maintain heart health and reduce the changes of cardiovascular diseases. 

The Mediterranean Diet

As the name clarifies, the Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional foods of some of the Mediterranean countries, mostly those bordering this region. These include France, Spain, Greece and Italy. The main emphasis of the diet is on natural, whole, minimally refined and unprocessed food which include the following:
  • Whole Grains
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Fish
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Some other products are also added to the diet. But in regulated amounts: 
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Low fat dairy
  • Red wine
The diet however, works towards completely eliminating or limiting the consumption of some other products like:
  • Additional Sugar
  • Refined Carbs
  • Processed Food and Snacks
  • Red and Processed Meats
The diet’s emphasis on more plant based products and minimally on animal based products has proven to be beneficial for patients suffering from heart diseases, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and more. One of many researches conducted to find the potential benefits of this diet leads us to its benefits to cardiovascular health

The DASH Diet

The DASH diet, aka, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension was designed to prevent hypertension or high blood pressure. And while it helps keep your BP in check, it inadvertently reduces the risk of heart diseases. This diet is more focussed on the consumption of potassium, calcium and magnesium rich foods. These nutrients are essential to keep your blood pressure in control. Most of these foods have low sodium, minimal saturated fats or added sugars. 
  • The diet focuses on,
  • Whole Grains
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Low Fat Dairy
  • Lean Meats
The diet also encourages the limitation of some products like,
  • Red Meats
  • Refined Grains
  • Added Sugars
The diet also pushes for some recommended doses for an overall positive effect. For instance, it states that an individual should incorporate the following in their daily diet. 
  • 6 to 8 servings of grains
  • 4 to 5 servings of fruits
  • 4 to 5 servings of vegetables
  • 2 to 3 servings of low fat dairy
  • 6 (1 ounce) servings of lean meat
  • 4-5 servings of nuts, seeds and legumes – in a week 
  • 2 to 3 servings of fats and oils 
  • 5 servings of sweets or added sugar – in a week 

Vegan and Vegetarian Diets

Unlike the previous two diets that we’ve mentioned, a vegan or vegetarian diet eliminates all or most animal products from your diet. These diets completely eliminate all meat products that include poultry, red meat, fish etc. Vegetarian diets however include most dairy products. Vegan diets, however, include no animal products, whatsoever. Instead, these diets put emphasis on the following:
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Tofu
  • Soy Products
  • Whole Grains
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Plant Based Oils and Seeds
When opting for a vegetarian or vegan diet, you need to put extra emphasis on getting all essential nutrients into your system. Since you’re cutting out most of the common sources of protein, omega fats, zinc, iron, vitamin B12 and more, you’ll have to find alternatives for them. 

The Flexitarian Diet

Another diet that isn’t too restrictive, the flexitarian diet promotes a more balanced diet with both plant based and animal based products. However, it is preferred that a major part of your protein intake is from plant sources. This one is a more realistic and therefore easily followable diet as compared to vegetarian or vegan diets that cut down all animal products from your diet. Similar to other dietary patterns, the focus is on whole, plant based and minimally processed foods. The diet requires you to:
  • Consume more fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
  • Get most of your protein from plant sources as opposed to animals. 
  • Consume less of animal products like dairy and meat but not still incorporate them in the diet every now and then
  • Cut down on processed and refined foods and depend more on natural foods
  • Limit consumption of sweets and added sugar
This diet does not have any specific definitions as it does not promote the complete elimination of any type of food from the diet. While some consumers may depend on more plant based foods and rarely ever consume animal products, the same might not be true for others. Therefore, finding precise benefits of the diet can be difficult. 

The TLC Diet

Promoting better health always begins with changes you make in your lifestyle. This includes both, the kind of foods you incorporate in your diet and the kinds you eliminate. The TLC Diet, otherwise called the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet, has been designed to promote heart health and reduce cholesterol levels. Not only this, but the diet also emphasizes the importance of exercise along with nutrition as the right way to prevent diseases. Along with these benefits, the diet also works as a catalyst of healthy weight loss. Similar to most other balanced diet plans, this one too includes some of the staples like:
  • Vegetables and Fruits – Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, carrots, berries, apples & bananas
  • Whole Grains – Whole Grain Bread, Pasta, Oatmeal, Rice, Quinoa & Barley
  • Legumes – Kidney Beans, Black Beans, Lentils & Peas
  • Nuts and Seeds – Almonds, Walnuts, Cashews, & Macadamia Nuts
  • Some Vegetable Oils and Margarines – Olive Oil, Canola Oil, Sunflower Oil, & Margarine with plant sterols
  • Low Fat Dairy Products – Milk, Yogurt & Cottage Cheese
  • Lean Cuts of Skinless Meat – Chicken, Turkey, Lean Ground Beef, Salmon & Tuna 
At the same time, the diet promotes the elimination or reduction of the following:
  • Processed Meats
  • Fatty Cuts of Meat
  • Fried and Processed Food
  • Egg Yolks
  • Full-Fat Dairy Products
  • Excess Salt and Sugar 
  • Large Amounts of Alcohol 
If you’re unable to witness a change in your weight after following the diet, you can always visit a clinic like Steady Care Medical and get a professional opinion. It is crucial to remember that an unhealthy body weight can also lead to cardiovascular complications, therefore, these issues should not be ignored in the long run. 

Ending Words

All the 5 diets mentioned above are well structured dietary plans that have been designed to promote a healthy lifestyle. Not only focusing on heart health, but most of these plans help keep all vitals at preferable stages. 
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