Keeping your heart healthy requires many proactive steps, especially when it comes to what you eat. After all, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For most people, maintaining a healthy diet usually involves removing problem foods from their regular rotation. But according to two new studies, eating more than one type of food can reduce the risk of heart disease by half. Read on to see what you need to work on most in your meals.

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The first of two studies, recently published in Journal of the American Heart Association, designed to determine how adopting a long-term diet focused on plant-based foods can affect the development of heart disease later in life. To test their theory, a research team analyzed data from 4,946 adults between the ages of 18 and 30 who were enrolled in the coronary artery risk development study in young adults (CARDIA). Participants monitored their health with eight subsequent exams from 1987-88 to 2015-16.

The researchers then conducted interviews on the history of the diet and ranked each participant using A priori Food Quality Score (APDQS) at the beginning of the study, seven years and 20 years later. Foods classified as beneficial — including vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, and nuts — were rated higher than harmful foods, such as high-fat red meat, chips, salty foods, pastas. and sugary drinks. Neutral foods were listed as refined cereals, potatoes, lean meats and shellfish. The researchers found that the highest traits among participants were related to those who ate a plant-based diet.

The results showed that participants who scored in the top 20 percent of long-term diet scores were 52 percent less likely to develop heart disease. But the researchers also found that participants whose scores increased between the ages of seven and 20 – when most participants were between the ages of 25 and 50 – were 61 percent less likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those whose diets were deteriorated over the same period.

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The study authors noted that no direct link could be drawn between cardiovascular health and plant-based diets as it was an observational study. They also said there were few real vegetarians in the group, making it impossible to determine the effects of a strict plant based on the risk of heart disease. However, the research team noted that the study was one of the first to focus on the long-term effects of an entire diet instead of specific foods or nutrients, making their findings an important step in better understanding the relationship between heart health and what we eat.

“A plant-rich, plant-based diet is good for cardiovascular health. A plant-based diet is not necessarily vegetarian,” Yuni Choi, PhD, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher in the division of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, said in a statement. “People can choose between plant foods that are as close to natural as possible, not too processed. We think individuals can include moderate animal products from time to time, such as roasted poultry, roasted fish, eggs. and low-fat dairy. “

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The second of two studies looked to examine whether a plant-based diet recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) aimed at lowering “bad” cholesterol, often referred to as the “Portfolio Diet,” could affect the risk of heart disease in older women. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), its main products include: “nuts; vegetable protein from soy, beans or tofu; viscous fiber soluble in oats, barley, okra, eggplants, oranges, apples and berries; plant sterols from foods enriched and unsaturated fats found in olive oil and canola and avocados; along with limited consumption of saturated fats and dietary cholesterol. “

A team of researchers analyzed data on 123,330 menopausal women between the ages of 50 and 79 who were not diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. Participants were then followed for an average of 15 years with self-reported food frequency questionnaires.

The team found that women who followed the Portfolio diet were less likely to develop any type of heart disease than women who did not follow the diet. It was also found that they were 14 percent less likely to develop coronary heart disease overall and 17 percent less likely to develop heart failure.

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The researchers noted that a direct cause-and-effect cannot be defined as an observational study. However, they said the study model and its large sample group made it a credible indicator and prompted more research focused on the effect of diet on young men and women.

“These results present an important opportunity, as there is still room for people to include more plant-based foods that lower cholesterol in their diets.” John Sievenpiper, MD, PhD, author of the study from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and associate professor of nutrition sciences and medicine at the University of Toronto, said in a statement. “With even greater adherence to the Portfolio diet model, one would expect an even lower link to cardiovascular events, perhaps as much as cholesterol-lowering drugs. However, an 11 percent reduction is clinically meaningful and will meet the threshold. “The results show that the Portfolio Diet provides benefits for heart health.”

The researchers also noted that additional steps toward a plant-based diet may help reduce the risk of heart disease. “We also found a dose response in our study, which means you can start small by adding one ingredient to your Portfolio Diet at the same time and gain more heart health benefits while adding more ingredients. , ” Andrea J. Glenn, one of the lead authors of the study and a doctoral student at St. John’s Hospital. Michael in Toronto and in nutrition sciences at the University of Toronto, said in a statement.

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