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.
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
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.