Research Names New Heart-Healthy Foods

A recent study on heart-healthy foods reviewed more than 140 randomized and controlled human clinical trials published between 1950 and 2007, and came to some fairly surprising conclusions. The study was published in this month’s issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Based on the evidence provided by the 140 studies, the researchers from McMaster University in Ontario divided the dietary interventions or nutrients into three categories: strong, moderate, or weak causal relationships between consumption and increased or decreased risk of developing heart disease.

The researchers concluded that just a few dietary patterns significantly affect your risk of developing heart disease. In contrast, most of the foods that dietitians usually recommend only have "weak associations" or may even lack sufficient evidence to say that they have an effect on heart disease at all.

Some of these foods include polyunsaturated fats and eggs. Dietitians usually recommend using fats and oils rich in poly and monounsaturated fats instead of saturated fats to reduce the risk of heart disease, but the study indicates that only monounsaturated fats have been "sufficiently studied and reduce risk (of heart disease) and at this time there’s not enough evidence around polys (polyunsaturated fats)."

Eggs on the other hand were believed to have a negative impact on our heart because of its high cholesterol levels. The analysis found that there is not enough evidence to support our assumptions.

The only foods that kept their heart-healthy reputations are vegetables, nuts, monounsaturated fat, and a Mediterranean-style diet. And sadly, the typical American-style diet was found to be just as bad for the heart we believed it to be.

Health.com says that the main this is not to "isolate specific foods or nutrients" to have a healthier heart. Rather, "focus on a Mediterranean-style diet rich in vegetables, seafood, nuts and many other nutrients believed to reduce risk of heart disease." That is, until we know more.

Here are some of the foods that have strong, moderate, or weak causal links to heart diseases as named by the new study:

Strongest heart healers

  • Vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Mediterranean-style eating
  • Monounsaturated fat

Strongest heart hurters

  • Trans fats
  • High glycemic index foods or high glycemic load diets
  • An "American" diet high in meat, dairy, and processed foods
  • Moderate heart healers
  • Seafood and marine omega-3 fatty acids
  • Whole grains
  • Fruit
  • Fiber
  • Diet rich in folate, beta-carotene, and vitamins E and C
  • Alcohol

Insufficient evidence of either helping or hurting

  • Vitamin E and C supplements
  • Total fat
  • Saturated fat
  • Polyunsaturated fat
  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Milk

Source: health.com