- In a new statement on diet and heart health, the American Heart Association proposed 10 key features of a healthy heart diet that can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke at all stages of life.
- The new statement emphasizes a general dietary pattern to support cardiovascular health and overall well-being, which is suitable for personal preferences, ethnic and religious customs, and life stages.
- The association summarized the evidence on sustainability for the first time and pointed out that a diet that is good for heart health is also good for the environment.
- The statement also listed a number of challenges for the first time, including social factors that make it more difficult to adopt or maintain a heart-healthy diet, and recommended public health measures to address these challenges, including the early introduction of food education. Nutrition in all schools. level.
The American Heart Association outlines 10 key characteristics of a healthy heart eating pattern in a new scientific statement that emphasizes the importance of overall eating patterns rather than individual foods or nutrients, and emphasizes the key to nutrition at all stages of life effect. According to the statement of the “2021 Dietary Guidelines for Improving Cardiovascular Health” released today (November 2, 2021), these characteristics can be tailored based on personal food preferences, cultural traditions, and whether most meals are consumed at home or on the go custom made. ) In the Association’s flagship journal “Circulation”.
The new statement reflects the latest scientific evidence on the benefits of maintaining a healthy heart diet throughout your life, and that poor diet is closely linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death. The statement emphasized the importance of looking at overall eating patterns rather than individual “good” or “bad” foods or nutrients. Eating pattern refers to the balance, type, quantity, and combination of foods and beverages that are often consumed. The statement also emphasizes the key role of nutrition education, starting a healthy diet early in life and maintaining this diet throughout life, as well as social and other challenges that can make it difficult to adopt or maintain healthy eating patterns.
“No matter what stage we are at, we can benefit from a heart-healthy diet and design a diet that suits personal preferences, lifestyle, and cultural customs. It does not have to be complicated, time-consuming, expensive or Unattractive,” said Alice H. Lichtenstein, chair of the statement writing group, D.Sc., FAHA, Jean Mayer, senior scientist and director of the Human Cardiovascular Nutrition Team at Tufts University, US Department of Agriculture, Boston Center for Aging Nutrition Research.
Since food is often eaten outside the home, the statement emphasizes that whether the food is prepared at home, ordered in a restaurant or online, or purchased as a prepared food, it can follow a heart-healthy eating pattern.
“It is entirely possible to adapt a heart-healthy diet to different lifestyles,” said Lichtenstein, who is also Stanley Gershoff, a professor of nutrition science and policy at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, a restaurant. However, this may require some planning, and it can become routine after the first few times. ”
The statement details 10 characteristics of a diet that promotes heart health:
- Balance food and calorie intake through physical activity to maintain a healthy weight.
- Choose a wide variety and eat more fruits and vegetables to get all-round nutrition from food instead of supplements;
- Choose whole grains and other foods that are mainly whole grains;
- Include healthy lean meat and/or high-fiber protein sources, such as vegetable protein (nuts and beans), fish or shellfish, low-fat or non-fat dairy products, lean meat, and limit red meat and processed meat;
- Use non-tropical liquid vegetable oils, such as olive oil or sunflower oil;
- Try to choose minimally processed foods instead of ultra-processed foods;
- Minimize the intake of sugar-added drinks and foods;
- Choose or prepare foods with less or no salt;
- Limit alcohol; if you don’t drink, don’t start; and
- This guide should be applied wherever food is prepared or eaten.
Processed foods include meats preserved by smoking, curing or adding chemical preservatives, and plant foods with added salt, sugar or fat. Many processed meats are high in salt, saturated fat and cholesterol. Studies have shown that substituting other protein sources for processed meat is associated with lower mortality. Ultra-processed foods refer to foods that contain artificial colors, flavors and preservatives in addition to salt, sweeteners or fats, which can promote storage stability, maintain texture, and increase palatability.
A heart-healthy diet is good for life.
The statement stated that nutrition plays a vital role in heart health throughout life. A heart-healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle, such as regular physical exercise and avoiding exposure to tobacco products, are the keys to reducing the risk of elevated “bad” cholesterol levels from infancy to adulthood. , High blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, each of which increases your risk of heart disease.
Before and during pregnancy, women who eat a heart-healthy diet can reduce risk factors for heart disease, which helps prevent unhealthy weight gain in their children. There is evidence that preventing childhood obesity is the key to maintaining and prolonging lifelong heart health. In later years, people who eat a heart-healthy diet have slower age-related declines in thinking and memory.
“Evidence shows that people of all ages can benefit from following the principles of a healthy heart diet,” Lichtenstein said. “Similarly, it is also important to educate children of all ages so that when they enter adulthood, they can make informed decisions about what to eat and set a positive example for future generations.”
A heart-healthy diet also helps protect the environment.
The association’s dietary guidelines include the theme of sustainability for the first time. Commonly eaten animal products, especially red meat (beef, lamb, pork, veal, venison, or goat), have the greatest impact on the environment in terms of land and water use, and make a significant contribution to greenhouse gas emissions . Therefore, shifting dependence from meat to plant protein can help improve personal health and the environment.
“It is important to realize that this guide is not only in line with heart health, but also in line with sustainability-it is good for people and our environment,” Lichtenstein said.
However, the statement pointed out that not all sustainable diets are healthy for the heart. For example, if a plant-based diet contains a lot of refined carbohydrates and added sugars, it will increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Social challenges are needed to support a heart-healthy diet.
The 2021 dietary guidelines examine for the first time the challenges that can make it difficult to adopt or maintain a heart-healthy diet. These include:
- Widespread misinformation about food from the Internet;
- Lack of nutrition education in elementary schools and medical schools;
- Food and nutrition insecurity: According to the references cited in the statement, by 2020, an estimated 37 million Americans will have limited or unstable access to safe and nutritious food;
- Structural racism and neighborhood segregation. Many communities with high racial and ethnic diversity have few grocery stores but many fast food restaurants; and
- Through personalized advertising efforts and sponsoring these community activities and organizations, targeted marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to people of different races and ethnic backgrounds.
The statement stated that public health actions and policy changes are needed to deal with these challenges and obstacles.
The statement concluded: “Creating an environment that promotes and supports all people to comply with a heart-healthy diet is a public health priority.”
At the individual level, the new statement reinforces the 2020 American Heart Association statement for healthcare professionals, which encourages routine evaluation of patients’ diet quality and includes this information in the medical record for follow-up at the next appointment .