A recent study conducted by researchers at McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences has found that not eating enough of six key foods may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. The study, published in the European Heart Journal, analyzed data from the Population Research Health Institute's large-scale global Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiological study.
The researchers discovered that consuming whole fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, fish, and whole-fat dairy products was crucial in lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes. The study also highlighted that a healthy diet can be achieved in various ways, such as including moderate amounts of whole grains or unprocessed meats.
Unlike previous diet scores, which combined both harmful and protective foods, this study focused solely on the beneficial foods. The PURE Healthy Diet Score recommends specific servings of each food group, including 2-3 servings of fruit and vegetables daily, 1 serving of nuts daily, 2 servings of dairy daily, 3-4 weekly servings of legumes, and 2-3 weekly servings of fish. It also suggests possible substitutes like whole grains or unprocessed red meat or poultry.
Experts, such as cardiologist Dr. Yu-Ming Ni, support these findings and recommend the Mediterranean diet, which includes these same food groups. Dr. Ni emphasizes the importance of portion control, especially for calorie-dense foods like proteins, nuts, and dairy.
Dietitian Andy De Santis believes that diversifying protein intake is essential for optimal heart health and advises incorporating protein sources like nuts, legumes, fish, and soy, which are often under-consumed.
While the study highlights the significance of these food groups, it is important to approach dietary changes in a manageable way. Starting with small changes and focusing on foods you enjoy can make transitioning to a balanced diet easier. It is also suggested to add foods rather than removing them and to prepare snacks and meals ahead of time to avoid unhealthy fast food options.
In conclusion, this study provides valuable insights into the impact of certain foods on cardiovascular health. By incorporating these key food groups into our diets, we can take a proactive approach to reducing the risk of heart disease.