Whole meal, little or no salt good for healthy heart; recommends AHA

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Rajeev Choudhury

The American Heart Association (AHA) has issued guidelines for a healthy heart during the recently concluded Scientific Session 2021.

The guideline emphasises on maintenance of healthy nutrition and maintaining of healthy body mass index (BMI) early in life.

“Poor diet quality is strongly associated with elevated risk of cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality. This scientific statement emphasizes the importance of dietary patterns beyond individual foods or nutrients, underscores the critical role of nutrition early in life, presents elements of heart-healthy dietary patterns, and highlights structural challenges that impede adherence to heart-healthy dietary patterns,” the guideline noted.

Citing evidence, the guideline recommends a slew of practices in nutritional habits that will help to maintain a healthy heart.

Eating plenty and variety of fruits and vegetables, eating whole grain meals rather than refined grains, choosing of plant-based proteins rather than animal proteins, in case animal proteins need to be taken, then preference should be given to fish, seafood over poultry and meat, the guideline noted.

In case one needs to eat meat, one should choose lean (low fat) and fresh meat and poultry over-processed meat, it pointed out.

High end (ultra) processed foods should be avoided and people should go for minimally processed foods.

Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt, the guidelines stated, as sodium in salt has been found to increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

The guideline also recommended using liquid plant oils in place of tropical oils like coconut, palm, and Palm kernel, butter, lard and partially hydrogenated fats.

While agreeing with the recommendations, Dr Brijesh Sharma, Professor of internal medicine in the Atal Bihari Institute of Medical Sciences and Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital pointed out that the incidences of heart diseases are increasing at a fast pace.

“Changing lifestyle, food habits also remain as a major contributor towards increasing incidences of cardiovascular diseases,” he added.

“Just choosing healthy food options are not enough, adequate attention must be paid towards the amount consumed on daily basis,” Dr Sharma said.
Moderation is the key, we need to adjust our food habits according to our lifestyle and energy requirement,” he stressed.


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