• Amarildo Prendi

6 Tips to Keep Your Heart Healthy

We all want a healthy heart for life. Diet can make a huge difference in achieving that goal. On Tuesday, the American Heart Association released its list of the 6 key components that make up a heart-healthy consuming pattern.




The recommendation may sound familiar, but the scientific statement — posted in the journal Circulation — focuses on “the balance, variety and combination of foods” people eat, rather than individual foods or nutrients.


“It does not need to be complicated, time consuming, expensive or unappealing,” said Alice Lichtenstein, chair of the scientific statement writing group and director of the cardiovascular nutrition team at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, in a statement.


1. Maintain a healthy weight throughout life

This means balancing food and calorie intake with physical activity. The authors advised a healthy dietary pattern that includes portion control coupled with at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. People should consume less as they age because daily energy needs decrease by up to 100 calories with each decade.


2. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables

Diets rich in fruits and vegetables — whether fresh, frozen, canned or dried, but “with the exception for white potatoes” — are associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, the authors noted. They recommended choosing deeply-colored produce such as leafy greens and peaches to get more nutrients.


It’s additionally better to eat whole fruits and vegetables than juice them because the whole form contains more fiber and makes a person feel fuller. It's best to get a full range of nutrients from food rather than supplements.


3. Choose whole grains

Eating whole grains such as brown rice instead of refined grains such as white rice improves cardiovascular risk factors, studies show. Products made with at least 51% whole grains are typically classified as whole-grain.


4. Include healthy sources of protein

This means mostly protein from plants, such as legumes and nuts, which are additionally good sources of fiber. Legumes include soybeans (which can be in the form of edamame and tofu), lentils, chickpeas and split peas.


At this time, plant-based meat alternatives require “some caution” because many are ultra-processed and contain added sugar, saturated fat, salt, stabilizers and preservatives, the authors wrote.


5. Use liquid non-tropical plant oils

This means olive, canola, sunflower, soybean, corn, safflower and sunflower oils, plus fat found in walnuts and flax seeds. Avoid coconut oil, butter, lard and partially hydrogenated fats.


6. Choose minimally-processed foods

These don’t contain added salt, sugar, fats, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. A fresh apple, a home-cooked fish filet, bagged spinach and raw, unsalted nuts are examples of unprocessed or minimally-processed foods. Store-bought cakes, cookies and frozen pizza are examples of highly-processed foods.


Originally published: Today

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