When it comes to heart health, it all starts with elevated levels of cholesterol. It may lead to heart diseases like atherosclerosis, and which further progresses to strokes, attack if left untreated.
Moreover, when it comes to dealing with the cholesterol problem, apart from lifestyle management, diet plays a major role.
There are many suggested diets when it comes to managing high blood pressure or cholesterol problems. Two common diets which are supported by studies are DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and the Mediterranean diet, which prove to be beneficial for managing heart problems.
It helps lower the rate of cardiovascular diseases because the diet does not provide any trans fat or saturated fats, which are the leading cause of cholesterol development.
The main features of the diet are as follows:-
- Plant-based foods: These are naturally cholesterol-free and include having more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes with foods which are fresh, seasonal and very minimally processed to retain their fibre and nutrients.
- Fat: Cold-pressed oils, mainly olive oil, virgin olive oil is preferred.
- It also includes intake of probiotic-rich yoghurt, which takes care of gut health.
- The preferred source of animal protein is lean chicken, fish but only in moderation.
- Intake of fruits 2-3 times in a day and no processed bakery foods allowed.
This diet is known to reduce blood pressure with some common diet principles as that of the Mediterranean diet.
- DASH diet includes less intake of sodium and fat. Since the salt intake is restricted anywhere between 2,300 to 1,500 mg of sodium coming from salt i.e. half to one tsp a day.
- DASH diet restricts fat intake for not more than 27% of the calories coming from fat sources and saturated fats below 6%.
- It also restricts the intake of saturated fat sources and processed foods high in trans fats.
Why are these two diets considered the best?
Firstly, it is easy to follow, as it is more of a lifestyle change approach, particularly the Mediterranean diet. Secondly, it is not only good for managing heart health but works for maintaining overall health.
To conclude, both the diets are beneficial for heart health and work in reducing weight as well when planned by maintaining a calorie deficit diet daily.
Fung, T. T., Hu, F. B., Wu, K., Chiuve, S. E., Fuchs, C. S., & Giovannucci, E. (2010). The Mediterranean and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diets and colorectal cancer. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 92(6), 1429–1435. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.2010.29242