The American Heart Association’s (AHA) recent scientific statement, titled “2021 Dietary Guidance to Improve Cardiovascular Health” published in their flagship journal Circulation, suggests that focusing on sustaining long-term habits will make the heart happier than having a full belly.
10 Heart-Healthy Eating Pattern
AHA’s scientific statement underscores the importance of nutrition early in life, elements needed for a heart-healthy diet, and highlights challenges that may stop a person from adhering to dietary patterns good for the heart. These 10 evidence-based dietary pattern to improve cardiovascular health includes:
- Regulate energy intake and expenditure
- Consume more fruits and vegetables
- Eat whole-grain foods and/or products
- Eat fish regularly and healthy sources of protein
- Avoid tropical oil and partially hydrogenated fats. Only use liquid plant oils.
- Avoid ultra-processed foods
- Cut back on drinking beverages and other sweetened foods
- Choose and use little to no salt when preparing food
- Limit alcoholic beverages; better not to take it at all
- Adhere to this dietary guideline
Societal Challenges in Adopting or Maintaining a Heart-Healthy Diet
According to Medical Xpress, AHA also talked about the challenges that make it harder to adopt or maintain a heart-healthy diet in their scientific statement aside from the 10 dietary patterns they discussed.
These challenges include the widespread misinformation from the internet about the heart-healthy diet, a lack of nutrition education in primary schools and even in medical schools, food and nutrition insecurity, structural racism that leads to neighborhood segregation, and targeted marketing of unhealthy foods to individuals from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.
The association believes that policy changes will help address these challenges and barriers to promote and support adherence to a heart-healthy diet.