10 guidelines for having better cardiovascular health – 11/24/2021

We all know that diet is strongly associated with the prevention or risk of developing heart disease.

In light of this, the AHA (American Heart Association), or American Heart Association, has updated its 2006 recommendations on diet and lifestyle.

This scientific statement emphasizes the importance of dietary pattern in addition to foods or nutrients consumed or ingested individually, and presents 10 guidelines for healthier eating and preventing heart disease.

You can check them briefly here:

1. Adjust your energy intake and expenditure to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight

Energy needs vary with age, physical activity, sex, weight and this can be balanced with the adoption of a healthy eating pattern and the practice of moderate physical activity to reach a healthy weight and contribute to reducing the risk of developing diseases from heart.

The guidelines still draw attention to the risks of diets that can produce short-term weight loss, but with uncertain long-term compliance and outcomes, as with restrictive diets.

2. Eat enough vegetables and vary your choices

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Give preference to vegetables in pieces, as they have more fiber and promote greater satiety than their respective juices.

Consuming a good variety of foods from this group provides essential nutrients and bioactive compounds that can help with heart disease.

Fruits, vegetables and vegetables can be eaten fresh, frozen and dried. Remember that frozen can be a good option, as they have a longer shelf life than fresh forms (avoiding waste), are ready for consumption and do not show a great loss of nutrients.

3. Give preference to whole grains over refined grains

This recommendation is made because whole grains are a source of fiber, the ingestion of which is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, including its beneficial effects on the intestinal microbiota.

4. Choose healthy sources

The American Heart Association recommends giving preference to plant-based proteins, such as those from beans, other legumes, and nuts, as plant-based dietary patterns appear to have heart health benefits compared to eating excessively based on high-density foods. animal origin.

But it is necessary to be aware of the replacement of animal foods, as those based on plants found on the market can be ultra-processed and contain excess sugar, saturated fat, salt, stabilizers, preservatives, among other food additives that do not benefit heart health. .

Greater consumption of low-fat fish, seafood and dairy products is also recommended. And even when opting for meat or chicken, it is suggested to choose leaner cuts, avoiding processed and ultra-processed ones, such as cured, smoked and salted meats, bacon, sausages, turkey breast, salami, ham, etc.

5. Use vegetable oils instead of tropical oils (coconut, palm and palm kernel), animal fats (eg butter and lard) and hydrogenated fats

Vegetable oils have unsaturated fats, which have cardioprotective effects. Tropical oils and animal fats, on the other hand, have many saturated fats and in excess can contribute to the development of cardiovascular diseases.

Hydrogenated fats, on the other hand, contain trans fats, present in small amounts in animal products and in large amounts in processed foods, contributing to an increase in LDL cholesterol, popularly known as “bad” cholesterol.

6. Choose minimally processed foods

The consumption of many ultra-processed foods impacts our health, including being overweight, obesity and chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Therefore, it is important to reduce ultra-processed foods and increase the consumption of fresh and minimally processed foods.

7. Reduce your consumption of beverages and foods with added sugars

The most common types of added sugars include glucose, dextrose, sucrose (table sugar), corn syrup, honey, maple syrup and concentrated fruit juice.

Its excessive consumption has been consistently associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and being overweight.

The use of sweeteners is thought to be a substitute for added sugars, but the guidelines also raise concerns about their effects on metabolism.

Therefore, it is best to consume less and less sugar and sweeteners, getting your palate used to the natural flavor of food.

8. Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt

In general, there is a relationship between excessive intake of salt, which contains sodium, and high blood pressure. But in fact, the main sources of sodium seem to come from processed, industrialized and prepared foods outside the home.

So, in addition to cooking with little salt, giving preference to natural seasonings, we have one more reason to reduce the consumption of processed and ultra-processed foods.

9. If you don’t drink alcohol, don’t start. But if you decide to drink, limit your intake

Alcohol consumption and the risk of developing heart disease seem to differ by the amount ingested, age and sex, as well as the type of cardiovascular disease.

Some studies show that low intakes may be associated with a lower risk of some types of heart disease. However, the American Heart Association does not recommend the consumption of alcohol, even in low doses, as there are many uncertainties about its effects, including in relation to other health problems.

Thus, the guidelines advise against drinking, and suggest that those who drink should not consume more than one dose of alcohol a day.

10. Follow these guidelines regardless of where food is prepared or consumed

Finally, the American Heart Association emphasizes that these guidelines apply to all foods and beverages, regardless of where they are prepared, purchased, and consumed.

Challenges to Adhering to AHA Recommendations

In addition to the ten guidelines, the AHA highlights the challenges of adhering to a healthy diet, as it considers that the food environment has a great influence on our food choices and, consequently, on heart health.

Among these challenges are:

  • Disinformation about food and nutrition;
  • Marketing aimed at food and beverages;
  • Discriminatory housing policies, which concern the construction of environments that promote unhealthy eating, with low availability of fruits and vegetables, and a large offer of fast-food and ultra-processed foods;
  • Structural racism, that is, the longstanding inequities that interfere with adherence to healthy eating patterns related to unfair institutional systems, such as education, employment and health care;
  • Food insecurity, which includes access to and availability of food.

I found this update spectacular!

  • They do not recommend restricting diets, but including more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and reducing excess animal products;
  • They provide very adequate guidelines, without nutritional terrorism, stress the importance of reducing sugars and sweeteners, including concentrated fruit juices, and encourage the reduction of ultra-processed products, as recommended by the NOVA classification, developed by Nupens (Center for Epidemiological Research in Nutrition and Health) of USP (University of São Paulo).

Are we going to eat better, not less?

good appetit,

Sophie gave