The American Heart Association (AHA, American Heart Association) released the latest “Improving Cardiovascular Health” dietary guidelines in 2021. This is also the association-one of the most influential medical guidelines in the United States-to update its heart health recommendations for the first time in 15 years.
The American Heart Association said that considering people’s current eating habits (more fast food options, such as takeaways, processed foods, cooking lazy bags, etc., the new crown epidemic has undoubtedly exacerbated this fashion), they seek to adjust their recommendations.
The new proposal also takes into account people’s different dietary restrictions and taboos, as well as cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, making it more practical for everyone.
AHA recommends that people develop healthy habits instead of making sudden and drastic changes based on some diet fads.
“A diet that is good for heart health also helps protect the environment.” This is also the first time that the American Heart Association includes and mentions sustainability in its dietary guidelines.
Here are the top ten dietary recommendations from AHA Heart Health:
1. Maintain a healthy weight
According to AHA, maintaining a healthy weight throughout your life is an important factor in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. But modern people tend to eat more and move less.
The AHA report stated that people’s energy needs vary greatly depending on personal factors such as age, activity level, gender, and body shape.
But usually during adulthood, the energy requirement will be reduced by 70-100 calories every 10 years.
Therefore, it is very important to maintain a balance between diet and calorie intake through exercise to achieve a healthy weight.
2. Eat more fruits and vegetables (different types)
The AHA reports that eating more fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of death. The more types of fruits and vegetables you eat, the better, which is conducive to the intake of comprehensive nutrients.
All forms of fruits and vegetables-including fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits and vegetables-can be included in a heart-healthy diet. They provide the necessary nutrients and phytochemicals.
But cardiologists especially recommend brightly colored fruits and vegetables, and they recommend eating them whole instead of juicing them.
The report recommends eating less fruit and vegetable products with salt and sugar.
3. Eat whole grain foods and eat less refined processed foods
The AHA report stated that multiple studies have once again confirmed the benefits of whole grain foods (or whole-grain foods), rather than processed foods.
In general, they recommend choosing foods that contain at least 51% whole grains.
Fourth, choose healthy protein
According to AHA research, plant-derived proteins, such as beans and nuts, should be selected.
The legume protein includes soybeans (including edamame and tofu), carob, lentils, chickpeas and peas.
The AHA also stated in the statement that an additional benefit of replacing animal food with plant-derived food is that it can also reduce the carbon footprint of food, so it is also more friendly to the planet.
But it warned against “vegetable meats” that they are currently ultra-processed foods and contain added saturated fats and saturated sugars, as well as salt, preservatives and stabilizers.
AHA said that there is currently limited evidence on the long-term and short-term health effects of this type of plant meat (or vegetarian meat).
Therefore, it recommends that people try:
- Eat fish and shellfish often
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy products instead of full-fat dairy products
- If you want to eat red meat or chicken, you can choose lean meat and avoid processed meats.
Five, choose liquid vegetable oil
The American Heart Association emphasizes that people should avoid so-called tropical oils (coconut oil, palm oil), animal fats (butter and lard), and partially hydrogenated fats.
AHA recommends that people use soybean oil, corn oil, safflower and sunflower oil, walnut oil, and linseed oil.
At the same time, there are canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil and most nut oils.
Sixth, eat less super processed foods, the less food processed, the better
The AHA report warns that eating too many super-processed foods is worrying because super-processed foods have adverse health effects, including overweight and obesity, cardiometabolic disorders (type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease), and increase mortality.
Therefore, the report recommends eating more unprocessed or least processed foods.
Seven, eat less sugary foods and beverages
Another recommendation of AHA is to eat less sugar-sweetened beverages and foods, whether it is glucose, dextrose or sucrose, and other sweeteners, such as corn syrup, honey, maple syrup or concentrated fruit juice.
Similarly, it also recommends eating less low-energy sweeteners, as well as low-elegant monosaccharides and disaccharides, because their potential benefits are still uncertain.
8. Eat less or no salt
Not surprisingly, this is the classic advice of cardiologists. AHA recommends that people eat less salt. Here, it not only refers to the salt when cooking, but also pay attention to the salt in processed foods, canned foods, and packaged foods.
But AHA also pointed out that one option is to replace ordinary salt with potassium-rich salt, especially in the food processing sector.
Nine, if you don’t drink, it’s best not to start drinking. If you drink, try to drink as little as possible
This is a difficult problem for many people. The AHA recognizes that the relationship between alcohol and cardiovascular disease is “intricate” because “risks seem to vary depending on the amount and method of alcohol intake, age, and gender.”
Therefore, it is difficult for many people to follow this advice.
The 2020-2025 American Dietary Guidelines continue to recommend that women should not exceed one drink a day; men should not exceed two drinks a day.
10. Follow these eating habits no matter where you eat
The AHA says these recommendations apply to all food and beverages, no matter where they are prepared, purchased and consumed.
AHA also recommends that policies should be formulated to encourage healthier food choices, such as producing more whole grain foods instead of refined processed grain foods, and minimizing the salt and sugar content in foods.
The statement issued by the American Heart Association when it released the latest healthy heart guidelines emphasized the importance of the overall diet, rather than the “good” and “bad” of a single food or nutrient.
The statement said that a heart-healthy diet is good for life, and emphasized that a healthy diet should start early and should last for a lifetime.
The statement also pointed out the importance of nutrition education, saying that it is scientifically proven that poor diet quality is closely related to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death.
The AHA proposes that some social changes need to be made in order to support a heart-healthy diet.
Challenges and obstacles
At the same time, the AHA guidelines also discussed for the first time some of the challenges faced by adopting or maintaining a heart-healthy diet. They include:
- Food false information widely circulated on the Internet
- Schools and medical schools lack nutrition education content
- Food and Nutritional Insecurity-According to the reference data cited in the statement, approximately 37 million Americans will have limited or unstable access to safe and nutritious food in 2020
- Structural racism (also known as institutional racism) and neighborhood segregation, that is, communities with many minorities and a high proportion of ethnic diversity tend to have many fast food restaurants, but lack grocery stores.
- Through tailor-made advertising and sponsoring activities and organizations in these communities, targeted marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to people from diverse and ethnic minority backgrounds
To deal with these challenges and obstacles, the statement stated that public health actions and policy changes are needed.
Disclaimer: All the above content is for reference only. If you have any concerns about your health, please see a doctor and follow the doctor’s advice.