A healthy diet is critical to preventing heart disease, as emphasized in the latest issue of a health promotion series that offers strategies to promote healthy eating and good heart health.
Published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, this paper focused on heart health promotion through a healthy diet. It described heart disease as a global threat and encouraged policies to make healthy eating more accessible and affordable. By addressing this global issue, experts believe that we can help individuals prevent heart disease and help those living with heart disease live longer, healthier lives.
The first step toward this goal, according to authors, is clarifying what a heart-healthy diet is. Based on the latest guidelines, that means a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes. A healthy diet also includes low-fat dairy and seafood and limits consumption of processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, refined grains and sodium.
Not only can a well-balanced diet promote a healthy weight, it helps reduce risk for heart disease and ensures that we get all the important nutrients that our bodies need.
The problem, however, is that making healthy choices isn’t always easy or possible. For many individuals, healthy foods are simply not available, and when they are, they may be too pricey. Cooking healthy foods can also be more time consuming than faster, less healthy options, which are often marketed heavily to attract consumers. Factors like flavor or even social norms can present further roadblocks to making healthy choices over time.
To help address these challenges, experts offer a number of strategies to make healthy choices easier. Strategies include nutritional and agricultural policies, as well as regulation of marketing to increase the availability and attractiveness of healthy foods. Experts also encourage better nutritional labeling and school and workplace interventions to help educate consumers about what they’re eating.
Together, they believe these changes will promote individual behavior change, which has the potential to impact overall public health. Heart disease is the leading killer of men and women in the United States. As authors explain, we need a concerted effort to change our entire food system and help improve our diets and our health.
Read the full article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Learn about CardioSmart's editorial process. Information provided for educational purposes only. Please talk to your health care professional about your specific needs.