Since the mid-1900s, Cardiovascular disease has become the leading cause of death for Americans. This surge in poor heart health is associated with the popularity of cigarettes during this time and a change in the average American diet. During the 1950s and 60s, Americans started to consume more processed foods, proceeded sugars, and saturated fats. During the 1960s, several major sugar companies funded Harvard research teams to connect heart disease to fat and suggest sugar was a helpful diet aid. While new research has come to light in the past sixty years, many American diets still contain high levels of sugar, fats, and carbohydrates.
Dr. Satjit Bhusri, a triple board-certified cardiologist and Council Member of the American Heart Association, understands the importance of diet in relation to heart health. By advising patients in his own New York City practice and experiencing cardiac shock himself in 2015, Dr. Bhusri strives to educate the public on the direct impact diet has on heart health. Many diets are put forward by nutritionists and health magazines that claim to be the best diet for those with cardiovascular disease. However, Dr. Bhusri explains to all his patients while there are many diets out there that help with heart health, you must find a reputable diet. Of the many reputable diets out there, many have the following characteristics; it must promote fruits, vegetables, and anti-inflammatory foods while limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, sodium, artificially sweetened foods and beverages, and full-fat dairy foods.
"There are red flags to watch out for with any internet diet, and so the most important thing I can tell my patients is to do your research. Any heart-conscious diet will encourage vegetables, healthy heart meats like salmon, and whole grains. Any diet that says it's ok to drink soda probably wasn't made by a cardiologist or nutritionist," said Dr. Bhusri.
One of the most popular, reputable diets for heart health is the DASH diet, which stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension. This diet promotes eating nutrients such as potassium, calcium, fiber, and protein to help reduce high blood pressure.
"A good example of a heart-healthy diet is the DASH diet. The DASH diet promotes eating healthy foods such as whole grains, lean protein, fruits, veggies, and low-fat dairy while reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened foods, whole dairy foods, and saturated fats," explained Dr. Bhusri.
When looking for a heart-healthy diet, Dr. Bhusri recommends:
• The diet has little to no fatty meats such as steak and pork.
• Promotes lower caloric intake and eating large portions of vegetables.
• Stays away from sugar sweetened foods and beverages such as ice-cream and sodas.
• Encourages the consumption of anti-inflammatory foods such as salmon and avocados.