The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.
- According to the 2012 American Heart Association Presidential Advisory, “Sodium, Blood Pressure, and Cardiovascular Disease,” the evidence supporting recommendations for reduced sodium intake in the general population remains robust and persuasive, and is important for improving the public’s health.17Recent reports of selected studies have stirred controversy and led to calls to abandon sodium intake recommendations. However, an expert panel convened by the American Heart Association (AHA) concluded these recommendations remain important. The panel’s detailed review of these selected studies considered them in the context of other existing research. The conclusion: There is no good rationale to warrant abandoning or reversing sodium-related dietary recommendations, and the AHA still strongly supports implementation of health promotion goals, including the recommendation to reduce dietary sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg per day, to improve the health of all Americans.18 Further, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans further clarifies which groups of people most need to focus on reducing sodium intake, noting that Americans aged two and up need to reduce sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day. People 51 and older, and those of any age who are African American, or who have high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease should aim lower for sodium—getting no more than 1,500 mg per day. Before you think, “that doesn’t apply to me,” consider that this covers nearly half the US population, and the majority of adults!19
- According to heart disease guidelines, addressing obesity and being overweight are important for helping people reduce the risk of heart disease, and better manage the condition if they already have it. Even modest weight loss of just 3%–5% of baseline body weight is likely to result in meaningful improvements in cardiovascular disease risk factors.More than 78 million adults in the United States were obese in 2009 and 2010, and obesity raises the risk of heart disease, death due to heart disease, and all other causes of death as well (all-cause mortality). Fortunately, even a small amount of weight loss can bring big rewards. Losing just 3%–5% of baseline body weight—that’s only 7.5 to 12.5 pounds for a person currently weighing 250 pounds—is likely to result in meaningful improvements in cardiovascular disease risk factors, including improvements in triglycerides (fat in the blood) and blood sugar levels. If you’re uncertain how to get started with a modest weight reduction plan, ask your doctor for a referral to a nutrition professional for counseling; nutritional counseling receives an “A” grade for effectiveness from the American Heart Association.20
- Plant-based diets that are based on eating lots of vegetables, fruits, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), nuts and seeds, whole grains, and small amounts of fish and other lean proteins, are linked with a lower risk of heart disease. In people who already have atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries), a healthy diet is important for maintaining health, and for reducing the risk of more serious complications and progression of disease.The 2013 American Heart Association (AHA)/American College of Cardiology (ACC) guidelines give a grade of “A”—indicating strong evidence to support the recommendation—to following a dietary pattern that emphasizes eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains; includes low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, nontropical vegetable oils, and nuts; and limits intake of sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages, and red meats. An "A" grade is also given to following a dietary pattern that limits saturated fat to less than 6% of total calories, or no more than about 13 grams of saturated fat per day for a 2,000 calorie diet, and to reducing the amount of calories coming from the trans (hydrogenated) fats found in proccessed and “junk” foods.21