If you’re wondering what to eat and what to avoid to lower your risk of heart disease, a new study is handing you all of the answers.
Load up on fresh produce, nuts, whole grains and seafood and steer away from red meat, sugary drinks and salty fare, according to Tufts University scientists out of Boston.
Sticking to a healthy diet with the right foods could cut deaths from heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes by almost half, they say.
Up to 45 per cent of deaths from these chronic diseases in 2012 were tied to eating too much or too little of 10 key foods the study identified.
“The good news is that now we understand more about which foods would prevent Americans from dying prematurely from cardiometabolic diseases,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Renata Micha, told Reuters.
These are the “good” foods that are beneficial to your heart’s health:
- Fruits: Three average-sized fruits daily
- Vegetables: Two cups cooked or four cups raw vegetables daily
- Nuts/seeds: Five one-ounce servings per week – that’s about 20 nuts per serving
- Whole grains: Two servings per day
- Polyunsaturated fats: These are healthy fats that should make up 11 per cent of daily calories
- Seafood: About eight ounces a week
These are the “bad” foods you shouldn’t eat too much of:
- Red meat: one weekly serving – a serving is a medium-sized steak, for example
- Processed meat: None recommended
- Sugary drinks: None recommended
- Salt: Limit your intake to about 2,000 milligrams daily – that’s just under a teaspoon
Renata came up with this list after scouring through U.S. surveys on diet and lifestyle from 1999 and 2002 and 2009 to 2012.
Americans’ food diaries shed light on what they were eating, while their medical records identified how many people were dying from heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.
Turns out, too much salt was tied to more than 66,500 deaths, while too much processed meat was tied to another 57,766 deaths.
Not eating enough fish, nuts and seeds and vegetables was tied to thousands of deaths.
Too much sodium can lead to health problems like high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and kidney disease, according to Eat Right Ontario. Most Canadians eat about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day. That’s more than double the amount we need: healthy adults should aim for about 1,500 milligrams.
Other studies have warned that a single daily serving of processed red meat is tied to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer. The World Health Organization’s cancer research arm labelled processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans” in 2015.
A serving could be a few ounces of hotdogs, some pepperoni slices on a pizza or some sausage links to accompany eggs in the morning.
Read the full study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
- With files from the Associated Press and Reuters