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Fad Diets vs. Heart-Healthy Nutrition

Fad diets and heart health graphic

Through many years of research, scientists have learned that the foods we eat impact the health of our hearts. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, eating a balanced diet and being physically active can prevent as much as 80% of premature strokes and heart disease.

There is an overwhelming amount of diet advice available. Sometimes it is difficult to sort out the healthy information from the less-than-helpful advice. Often, the lure of quick fixes and easy results overshadow the health aspects of nutrition plans.

Fad Diets

A fad diet is a nutrition plan that is not sustainable for a healthy lifestyle. Fad diets are like fashion trends – just wait until next season and something else will become the popular diet to follow. They often produce quick weight-loss results that are not sustainable or healthy for the long-term.

Fad diets can be tricky to recognize. Keep an eye out for these common characteristics of a fad diet:

  • The diet promises remarkable changes in your body in a short period of time. If it promises a quick fix, it is probably a fad diet.
  • When balanced eating is not encouraged, be skeptical. Fad diets often promote drastically limiting or completely eliminating entire food groups or consuming large quantities of one type of food.
  • Extreme restrictions on food intake indicate a fad diet. For example, the diet may encourage skipping meals or extreme fluctuations of calorie intake.
  • Some fad diets are just a platform to sell a particular product brand. If the nutrition plan requires purchasing specific foods or vitamin supplements, then it is a fad diet.
  • Fad diets use before and after photos, testimonials and pseudo-science as proof the diet works instead of credible scientific research from multiple sources.
  • Diets that focus mostly on weight loss and less on overall health are fad diets.

 

Nutrition for a Healthy Heart

A well-

balanced diet is full of the nutrients that your body needs to be healthy and strong. A varied and balanced diet provides your body with the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins, amino acids and fiber that it requires to support a healthy heart.

A heart-healthy diet includes:

  • Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables not only provides your body with many nutrients it needs to be healthy, but helps you to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Choosing whole-grain cereals, pasta, rice and breads increases the fiber and nutrients your body needs to support a healthy heart.
  • Lean proteins including meats, dairy and plant-based proteins like legumes and tofu support your bones and muscles.
  • Avoid highly-processed foods, especially those with high sodium and sugar content.
  • Drink water. Avoid sugary beverages like soft drinks and fruit juices.

It may take time, but achieving a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet along with adequate physical activity is a sustainable path towards a heart-healthy body.

A fad diet that promises results that sound too good to be true usually is exactly that – untrue. The path to a healthy lifestyle takes time and commitment. Remember to be patient with yourself and to keep working towards a healthier lifestyle – your heart will thank you.

Did you know that gardening can help your heart health? Or perhaps you are on the lookout for some heart healthy recipes. Check out our blog for these and other topics.