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Look at any web article on heart disease or any health-related magazine on the shelf at your local grocery store and you’ll find recommendation upon recommendation for the type of diet you should eat to stay heart-healthy.
The problem is that most of those recommendations give contradictory advice on the best diet to ward off heart attacks, heart failure, and other cardiovascular dangers.
In fact, while some will tell you to up your protein and go low-carb, others recommend a carbohydrate-rich diet (as long as those carbs are what they consider “good carbs”). Still, others are touting low-fat as the holy grail of heart disease prevention.
And, believe me, the medical community has fallen prey to the same issues. Even doctors are all over the map in their own dietary recommendations.
So, what’s one to do? How do you know which diet you should choose if you want to stay heart-healthy? And, does focusing on specific nutrients really matter, or is it just a lot of hype?
It looks like we may have the definitive answer — and it’s going to make it a lot easier for you, here on out…
Heart-healthy foods versus specific macronutrients
Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) set out to determine which of the three most popular heart disease prevention diets is most effective. Each of the three diets emphasizes specific macronutrients that are supposed to do the trick:
- Unsaturated fats
The three diets were:
- DASH Like Diet – This diet is pretty familiar to most of us and is a carbohydrate-rich diet, with sugars, grains, and starches accounting for more than half of its calories.
- Protein-Rich Diet – For this diet, the researchers had participants replace 10 percent of calories from carbohydrates with protein
- Healthy Fats Diet – This diet was rich in unsaturated fat with 10 percent of calories from carbohydrates replaced by the healthy fats found in avocados, fish and nuts.
All three diets were super healthy and low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium while providing other nutrients at recommended dietary levels. This allowed the team to determine whether the specific type of diet and its macronutrients could be beneficial to your heart or if simply eating healthy is enough to keep your heart ticking.
The team measured each diet’s effect on a biomarker that directly reflects injury to your heart and can give you a reading on the cell damage and inflammation that is putting you at risk. They compared it to participants’ baseline levels and performed a head-to-head comparison between diets.
So which heart-healthy diet performed best? Not a single one!
Instead, all three diets were equally as impressive at reducing heart injury and inflammation — and they acted quickly, at that, showing positive results within a 6-week period.
However, changing the macronutrients of the diet (carbs, protein or fats) didn’t provide any extra benefits. And this is important for two reasons:
- First, the effects of diet on heart injury are rapid and cardiac injury can be reduced soon after simply by adopting a healthy diet.
- Second, it is not the type of diet that matters for cardiac injury (high- or low-fat, high- or low-carb), but rather the overall healthfulness of the diet.
As study author Stephen Juraschek, MD, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine at BIDMC and Harvard Medical School put it, “Our findings support flexibility in food selection for people attempting to eat a healthier diet and should make it easier. With the average American eating fewer than two servings of fruit and vegetables a day, the typical American diet is quite different from any of these diets, which all included at least four to six servings of fruits and vegetables a day.”
This means that you don’t have to fall for the hype of which diet is best. Instead of picking a specific diet to follow, simply pick out good foods to eat and your heart will thank you. The key is eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and high in fiber while limiting red meats, sugary beverages, and sweets. So, enjoy a healthy diet and enhance your heart health for life.
Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!