What You Should Do to Improve Your Cardiovascular Health

The dietary guide is adapted to the current eating habits marked by the pandemic

Cardiovascular health (Courtesy)

Healthy eating, rest, control of cholesterol and BMI levels, monitoring the level of glucose in the blood, not smoking, and controlling blood pressure, are some of the recommendations made by doctors to improve cardiovascular health.

But this week the American Heart Association (AHA), for the first time in 15 years, released its 2021 dietary guide.

The guide adapts current eating habits, marked by the pandemic, where “the trend is more fast food options, such as home delivery, meal kits, and previously prepared foods.”

Dietary recommendations according to AHA

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

2. Eat plenty of varied fruits and vegetables.

According to the AHA, both are associated with reduced mortality.

“These provide the right essential nutrients and phytochemicals,” says the report, published by BBC World.

3. Eat foods made with whole grains instead of refined grains.

4. Choose healthy sources of plant protein, such as legumes and nuts: Soy (including edamame and tofu), beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas are common types of these legumes.

“It is noteworthy that replacing animal-based foods with whole plant-based foods has the added benefit of reducing the diet’s carbon footprint, thereby contributing to planetary health,” the report states.

However, it warns about the consumption of meat of vegetable origin, given that they are currently ultra-processed products and contain added saturated sugars, fats, salt, stabilizers and preservatives.

It also recommends regular consumption of fish and seafood, low-fat or fat-free dairy products instead of whole dairy products.

If you want red meat or poultry, choose lean cuts and avoid processed forms.

5. Use liquid vegetable oils: The AHA ensures that so-called tropical oils (coconut, palm, etc.) should be avoided. Also animal fats (butter and lard) and partially hydrogenated fats.

Instead, he recommends the use of soybean, corn, safflower, and sunflower oils, nuts, and flax seeds.

Also, those of canola, olive, walnuts, and those that come from peanuts and most nuts and their butter.

6. Choose minimally processed foods instead of ultra-processed foods.

The report warns that the consumption of many ultra-processed foods is of concern because of their association with adverse health effects, including overweight and obesity.

7. Reduce the intake of beverages and foods with added sugars, either glucose, dextrose, or sucrose, or other types of sweeteners such as corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, or concentrated fruit juice.

It also suggests limiting the consumption of low-energy sweeteners and low-abundance mono- and disaccharides, whose potential benefits have not yet been determined.

8. Decrease or eliminate salt consumption: on this occasion, it not only refers to the one we add to the food but also to put an eye on processed foods, in those prepared outside the home or canned and packaged.

9. If you don’t drink alcohol, don’t start drinking; if you choose to drink alcohol, limit your intake.

“The Dietary Guidelines for Americans from 2020 to 2025 continue to recommend no more than one glass of alcoholic beverage per day for women and two drinks a day for men.”

Enact policies

According to the American Heart Association, these recommendations should apply to all foods and beverages, regardless of where they are prepared, purchased, and consumed.

“Policies should be enacted that encourage healthier eating choices, such as making whole grain products available instead of refined grains.”

It also points out that it is necessary to “minimize the sodium and sugar content in the products.”

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