By William Driscoll
The “optimal” diet to prevent artery clogging, and thus avoid cardiovascular disease, consists predominantly of “fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, plant protein and fatty fish,” said 14 medical doctors and other researchers in a review article published in 2022 in the American Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
The authors said that four diets that have gained attention can meet similar guidelines that were issued in 2019: the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, a “healthy vegetarian” diet, and the exclusively plant-based, or vegan, diet.
The authors’ recommendations were based on their review of 172 research studies, and constitute a “clinical practice statement” from the American Society for Preventive Cardiology.
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Legumes include beans, peas and peanuts. “Seeds” is another word for grains—such as wheat seeds, from which flour is made, and foods such as rice and oatmeal.
Plant protein can provide all the amino acids your body needs, through any combination of legumes and seeds eaten in the same day, as described in the 1971 bestselling book “Diet for a Small Planet.”
The 14 co-authors recommend reducing consumption of foods containing saturated fat, dietary cholesterol, salt, and refined grain, as well as ultra-processed foods.
Foods with saturated fat include eggs, meats, whole milk, butter, and coconut oil. Dietary cholesterol is found in meats, seafood, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. The most commonly used refined grain is white flour, which is made from wheat grains after the outer bran and the “wheat germ” have been removed.
Ultra-processed food includes calorie-dense foods high in refined flour, sugar and/or fats, such as snacks, treats and many fast food and restaurant offerings. A separate study found that ultra-processed foods were the source of 58% of the calories consumed in America.
The journal article, available for free at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8914096/, is titled “Practical, evidence-based approaches to nutritional modifications to reduce atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease: an American Society for Preventive Cardiology clinical practice statement.”