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AHA ranks popular US diets for cardiovascular fitness

AHA ranks popular US diets for cardiovascular fitness

The American Heart Association issued a scientific statement in 2021 to explain the elemental principles of dietary patterns that may improve cardiovascular health.

In an article published within the journal Circulation, scientists have discussed various clinical and cultural aspects that may potentially affect long-term adherence to healthy dietary patterns aligned with the recently published American Heart Association criteria. They’ve also proposed strategies to advertise the consumption of heart-healthy diets. 

Popular Dietary Patterns: Alignment With American Heart Association 2021 Dietary Guidance: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Image Credit: SewCreamStudio / Shutterstock

Dietary patterns to enhance cardiovascular health

The 2021 dietary guideline by the American Heart Association to advertise cardiovascular health includes ten primary features. In line with this guideline, a balance between energy intake and expenditure needs to be maintained to avoid body weight gain. A wide range of vegetables and fruits needs to be consumed in high quantities.

Consumption of proteins from healthy sources, including plants, fish, and seafood, is significant for cardiovascular fitness. Minimal or no consumption of beef is advisable. Lean cuts of poultry are higher than processed forms. Similarly, low-fat or fat-free dairy products are higher than full-fat products.

For cooking and seasoning, plant-derived oils (olive oil, sunflower, corn) are advisable over animal fats (butter) and tropical oils (coconut, palm, kernel). Processed or ultra-processed foods, high-sugar beverages, and high-salt foods needs to be avoided.

Alcohol or alcohol-based beverages needs to be avoided or minimally consumed. Nonetheless, a very powerful suggestion is strictly adhering to this complete guideline no matter where food is ready or consumed.       

Popular dietary patterns followed in america  

The scientists evaluated popular dietary patterns regularly consumed in america and aligned them with the 2021 dietary guideline issued by the American Heart Association. With the aim of accelerating interpretation and implementation, they divided these popular dietary patterns into ten categories based on the degree of similarity within the macronutrient profile, food groups, or each that were emphasized or restricted.

The chosen dietary patterns were DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)-style, Mediterranean-style, pescetarian, ovo/lacto-vegetarian, vegan, low-fat, very low-fat, low-carbohydrate, Paleolithic, and really low-carbohydrate/ketogenic dietary patterns.

The first focus of the DASH weight loss program is to extend the consumption of micronutrients from plants, lean meat, fish, and dairy products and restrict the consumption of saturated fats, added sugars, and salt.

The first focus of the Mediterranean weight loss program is to extend the consumption of plant-based foods, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, poultry, fish and seafood, and polyunsaturated fats (olive oil). The weight loss program also recommends consuming a moderate amount of red wine with each meal. The consumption of processed foods, beef, dairy products, and high-sugar foods and beverages is restricted on this weight loss program.

Vegetarian dietary patterns mostly exclude the consumption of animal products. Nonetheless, certain vegetarian diets, including pescetarian and ovo/lacto-vegetarian diets, allow some extent of animal product intake. In contrast, a vegan weight loss program strictly restricts the consumption of all types of animal products.

Low-fat dietary patterns allow energy intake of 20 – 30% from fat-based food sources. Alternatively, very low-fat dietary patterns allow lower than 10% of energy intake from fats. Low-carbohydrate dietary patterns allow 20 – 40% of energy intake from carbohydrates. Very low-carbohydrate dietary patterns, alternatively, allow 5 – 10% of energy intake from carbohydrates.

The first focus of the Paleo weight loss program is to extend the consumption of vegetables, fruits, nuts, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs and avoid consuming added sugars, whole and refined grains, legumes, oils, dairy, alcohol, and sodium.    

The scientific state made within the study

The scientists identified the very best alignment of the DASH, Mediterranean, pescetarian, and vegetarian diets with the 2021 dietary guidelines of the American Heart Association. Due to lower intake of animal-based foods, these diets support planetary health and, thus, have a lower environmental impact.

Vegan and low-fat diets showed good alignment with the advisable guideline. Although these diets are related to optimal cardiovascular outcomes, the scientists advised ensuring the inclusion of healthy plant-based protein sources within the vegan weight loss program. For low-fat diets, they advised to incorporate unsaturated fats as replacing unsaturated fats with refined carbohydrates and added sugars could have a negative cardiovascular impact.

No optimal alignment of a really low-fat weight loss program and low-carbohydrate weight loss program with the rule of thumb was observed within the study. Particularly, the avoidance of nuts and plant-based oils in very low-fat diets didn’t align with the rule of thumb that recommends the inclusion of healthy fats in diets. In a low-carbohydrate weight loss program, restricted intake of healthy whole grains, legumes, and a few whole fruits was identified because the principal problematic feature that showed no alignment with the rule of thumb.

The Paleo and really low-carbohydrate diets had the bottom alignment with the rule of thumb. Essentially the most problematic features of those diets include the restricted intake of healthy whole grains and legumes and the inclusion of high-saturated fats. These sorts of dietary arrangements could significantly negatively impact cardiovascular health.

Strategies for the adoption of healthy dietary patterns

The scientists recommend that healthcare professionals should follow up on how patients or consumers implement a given dietary pattern. This may help discover potential misunderstandings and supply opportunities to enhance adherence to the features of the American Heart Association guideline.


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