No Specific Diet Best for Heart Health

We all want better heart health. One step, outside of doctors and medications, is a healthy lifestyle. We know exercise, sleep routines and diet are essential. But, we constantly get bombarded with information about “the best” approach. What “the best” diet is shifts with research. Now, scientists are saying it’s not a specific diet but consistency that helps.
 
We’ve heard that the Mediterranean diet is best. But we’ve also heard that the DASH diet can lower heart failure by almost half. We’re told that olive oil is excellent. But then we’re told that seed oils are better. This new research doesn’t argue with any of those findings — they are still valid — but it clears some things up.
 
In your everyday life, sticking to an exact diet can be hard, like which type of oil to use or the exact amounts of specific foods you can have. The new research found that it can be much simpler: the healthiest diet for your heart is just consistently eating a healthy diet. Whatever way is most comfortable for you will help you.
 
We found that following a variety of healthy eating patterns such as the Mediterranean diet or plant-based diet significantly lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease in both men and women and in different racial and ethnic groups,” Dr. Frank Hu, of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Although these patterns vary in specific constituents, they share common components such as increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts, and lower consumption of red and processed meats and added sugar.”
 
In other words, while we still might be unsure of which one is “the best,” they are all good. And being healthy can be just sticking to healthy foods, not exact veggies and specific proteins. The team analyzed data from studies that encompassed 209,133 different patients. In every study, people had taken surveys about their eating habits for several years. Across the board, people who ate healthily — with or without a specific diet — had better heart health.
 
A common misconception is that there is a magic bullet diet to health and longevity, but no such magic diet solution exists,” said Dr. Hu. “To improve health, there is no one-size-fits-all diet that is best for everyone. One can combine a wide range of healthy foods in a variety of flexible ways to achieve healthily and balanced eating patterns according to individuals’ health needs, food preferences and cultural traditions.”
 
We find this research deeply comforting. Most of us can’t stick to one specific eating regime all the time. It’s hard, and it limits food options when we go out. Additionally, ingredients can be expensive when you’re being told you have to have one specific type of thing. It can be even harder if you have other medical, religious or personal reasons that stop you from perfectly adhering to a diet. It’s so much easier to just eat things in moderation and with common sense.
 
Knowing and following the guidelines of each diet is hard. Avoiding red meat and candy is much easier for us in our daily routines. Most of us with heart health concerns already do that. This new research makes us feel more comfortable because, even though passing up chocolate can be difficult, eating healthier over achievable. Having the results tell us that eating with common sense and sensible choices can help boost heart health is great news that makes us feel more able to achieve our goals.
July 06, 2020
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