Smart Health Watch

The American Heart Association (AHA) published its latest dietary guidelines for "Improving Cardiovascular health" in 2021. It is also the first time in 15 years that the association - one of the most influential medical guidelines in the United States - has updated its heart-health recommendations.

The AHA said it sought to adjust its recommendations in light of people's current eating habits -- a trend no doubt exacerbated by the pandemic by more fast food options such as takeout, processed foods and slack-bag meals.

The new recommendations also take into account people's different dietary restrictions and taboos, as well as cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds, to make it more practical for everyone.

The AHA recommends that people adopt healthy habits instead of making sudden and drastic changes based on some dietary fad.
"A heart-healthy diet also helps protect the environment," it said, marking the first time the American Heart Association has included and mentioned sustainability in its dietary guidelines.

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Here are the top 10 dietary recommendations from the AHA Heart Health:
One, maintain a healthy weight
According to the AHA, maintaining a healthy weight throughout life is an important factor in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. But modern people tend to eat more and move less.

The AHA reports that people's energy needs vary greatly depending on individual factors such as age, activity levels, gender, and body shape.

But typically during adulthood, energy requirements drop by 70 to 100 calories every 10 years.

Therefore, it is important to maintain a balance between diet and calorie intake through exercise to achieve a healthy weight.
Two, eat more fruits and vegetables (different kinds)
The AHA reports that eating more fruits and vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of death. The more variety of fruits and vegetables you eat, the better, to get a full range of nutrients.

All fruits and vegetables -- fresh, frozen, canned, and dried -- can be included in a heart-healthy diet. They provide essential nutrients and phytochemicals.

But cardiologists specifically recommend brightly colored fruits and vegetables and recommend eating them whole, not juiced.

The report recommends eating fewer fruits and vegetables with added salt and sugar.

Three, eat whole grains and less processed foods
The AHA report says multiple studies reaffirm the benefits of whole grains, or whole grains, as opposed to processed foods.

Overall, they recommend choosing foods that contain at least 51 percent whole grains.

Choose healthy proteins
The American Heart Association stresses that people should avoid so-called tropical oils (coconut and palm), animal fats (butter and lard), and partially hydrogenated fats.

The AHA recommends that people use soybean oil, corn oil, safflower and sunflower oil, walnut oil, and flaxseed oil.

Also, canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil, and most nut oils.

Six, eat less super processed food, the less processed food the better
Not surprisingly, this is classic advice from cardiologists. The AHA recommends that people eat less salt. Here, it doesn't just mean salt in cooking, but also salt in processed, canned and packaged foods.

But the AHA notes that one option is to replace regular salt with potassium-rich salt, especially in the food processing sector.

If you don't drink, don't start drinking. If you drink, drink as little as possible
This is a difficult problem for many people. The AHA acknowledges that the relationship between alcohol and cardiovascular disease is "complex" because "risk appears to vary by alcohol intake and pattern, age, and gender."

As a result, it is difficult for many people to follow this advice.

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans continue to recommend that women have no more than one alcoholic beverage per day; For men, no more than two drinks a day.

10. Follow these eating habits wherever you eat
The recommendations apply to all foods and beverages, regardless of where they are prepared, purchased and consumed, the AHA said.

The AHA also recommends policies that encourage healthier food choices, such as producing more whole grains instead of refined processed grains and minimizing salt and sugar in foods.