How to live longer: Best diet to improve heart health, lower blood pressure & cholesterol

Study finds being OUTDOORS helps you live longer

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The world’s biggest killer is ischaemic heart disease, responsible for 16 percent of the world’s total deaths. Since 2000, the largest increase in deaths has been for this disease, rising by more than two million to 8.9 million deaths in 2019. Strokes are the second leading cause of death, responsible for approximately 11 percent of deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). High cholesterol is linked to high blood pressure, which is responsible for a higher risk of strokes. With this in mind, one particular diet has been proven to not only keep the heart healthy, but also to lower both blood pressure and cholesterol helping to boost one’s longevity and reduce the risk of serious health outcomes.

In a study published in the National Library of Health, an in-depth look was undertaken to determine what is the healthiest diet when it comes to longevity including what to eat and what to avoid.

“There is much controversy surrounding the optimal diet for cardiovascular (CV) health and overall health,” began the study.

It continued: “Poor quality diets are high in refined grains and added sugars, salt, unhealthy fats and animal-source foods; and low in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish and nuts.

“They are often high in processed food products – typically packaged and often ready to consume – and light on whole foods and freshly-prepared dishes. 

“In addition, fruit and vegetable intake has remained inadequate.”

With this in mind the study explored possible diets to ensure one is getting enough vitamins and minerals and reducing their risk of foods which negatively impact overall health.

The study conclude that a DASH diet allows for higher intake of fruits and vegetables and this type of eating plan reduced blood pressure, cholesterol and cardiovascular disease risk.

“A meta-analysis of three prospective cohorts found high adherence to the DASH eating also reduced type 2 diabetes risk by 27 percent,” it added.

In another study published in the journal JAMA, the DASH diet was shown to significantly reduce high blood pressure in hypertensive participants.

It also has been tested in multiple randomised controlled trials in specific populations, including obese hypertensives (a person with high blood pressure) and individuals with type 2 diabetes, both alone and in combination with other lifestyle interventions, with consistent results.

The Optimal Macro-Nutrient Intake to Prevent Heart Disease (OmniHeart) trial indicated that within a DASH-like dietary pattern, substituting protein for carbohydrate or substituting fat (primarily monounsaturated) for carbohydrate additionally lowered blood pressure.

What is the DASH diet?

The DASH diet is rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

It includes fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans and nuts.

However, it limits foods which are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats and full-fat dairy products.

Foods and drinks to avoid when following the DASH diet include high sugar, high-fat snacks, and foods high in salt such including sweets, biscuits and crisps.

Dairy consumption on the DASH diet is kept to a minimum – with no more than three servings daily.

This includes milk, yoghurt and cheese – and the focus should be on “low-fat” or “fat-free” dairy.

When it comes to meat consumption, the DASH diet only consists of “lean meat, poultry, or fish”.

The Mayo Clinic noted that there should be “no more than six one-ounce servings a day”.
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