Looking to keep cardiovascular diseases at bay? Include these 6 foods in your diet

Jul 10, 2023
Your heart matters! Discover the foods you should be eating to maintain a strong cardiovascular system. Source: Getty

A new report led by researchers from McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences has just announced some deliciously good news for people looking to fend off cardiovascular diseases (CVD).

According to the study, published in the European Heart Journal, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, fish, and whole-fat dairy products in your diet is the key to minimising your chances of heart attacks and strokes.

The World Health Organisation estimates 17.9 million people die yearly from CVD. Nearly 32 per cent of all deaths worldwide can be attributed to this, with 85 per cent specifically caused by heart attacks and strokes.

In Australia alone, there are over 1.2 million adults diagnosed with 1 or more cardiovascular conditions. With the prevalence of CVD rapidly increasing with age, it affects 11 per cent of older Aussies aged 75 and up.

While previous studies have focused on Western countries and diets combining processed foods with nutrient-dense options, this global research examined foods commonly considered to be healthy.

With the use of data from 245,000 people in 80 countries, researchers found that a heart-healthy diet can be achieved in many ways and that consuming moderate amounts of whole grain and unprocessed meats is still okay if paired with a healthy serving of foods believed to help protect your heart.

“Previous diet scores – including the EAT-Lancet Planetary Diet and the Mediterranean Diet tested the relationship of diet to [cardiovascular disease] and death mainly in Western countries, but the PURE Healthy Diet Score included a good representation of high, middle, and low-income countries,” said senior author and principal investigator, Salim Yusuf.

The PURE Healthy Diet Score recommends an average of:

  • 2-3 servings daily  of fruit
  • 2-3 servings daily of vegetables
  • 1 serving daily of nuts
  • 2 servings daily of dairy
  • 3-4 weekly servings weekly of legumes
  • 2-3 weekly servings weekly of fish

“There is a recent increased focus on higher consumption of protective foods for disease prevention. Outside of larger amounts of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, the researchers showed that moderation is key in the consumption of natural foods,” Yusuf said.

“Moderate amounts of fish and whole-fat dairy are associated with a lower risk of CVD and mortality. The same health outcomes can be achieved with moderate consumption of grains and meats—as long as they are unrefined whole grains and unprocessed meats.”

On top of eating a healthy diet, Australians can reduce their risk of CVD by staying physically active, practising good sleeping habits in the bedroom, and limiting alcohol consumption.

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