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A Heart-Healthy Diet: Recent Insights and Practical Recommendations

Abstract

Purpose of Review

The purpose of this study is to review the current evidence on the relationship between diet and heart, giving practical recommendations for cardiovascular prevention.

Recent Findings

A heart-healthy diet should maximize the consumption of whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and legumes and discourage the consumption of meat and meat products as well as refined and processed foods. Plant-based diets fully meet these criteria, and the evidence supporting the protective effect of these dietary patterns evolved rapidly in recent years. Among plant-based diets, the Mediterranean and vegetarian diets gained the greater interest, having been associated with numerous health benefits such as reduced levels of traditional and novel risk factors and lower risk of cardiovascular disease. These positive effects may be explained by their high content of dietary fiber, complex carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and phytochemicals.

Summary

Current evidence suggests that both Mediterranean and vegetarian diets are consistently beneficial with respect to cardiovascular disease.

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Abbreviations

AHS:

Adventist Health Study

AMS:

Adventist Mortality Study

BMI:

Body mass index

DHA:

Docosahexaenoic acid

EPA:

Eicosapentaenoic acid

EPIC:

European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition

HDL:

High-density lipoprotein

HFSS:

Health Food Shopper Study

LDL:

Low-density lipoprotein

NHANES:

National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

OVS:

Oxford Vegetarian Study

WHO:

World Health Organization

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Correspondence to Francesco Sofi.

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Conflict of Interest

Monica Dinu, Giuditta Pagliai, and Francesco Sofi declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

Additional information

This article is part of the Topical Collection on Lipid Abnormalities and Cardiovascular Prevention

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Dinu, M., Pagliai, G. & Sofi, F. A Heart-Healthy Diet: Recent Insights and Practical Recommendations. Curr Cardiol Rep 19, 95 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11886-017-0908-0

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Keywords

  • Diet
  • Heart
  • Mediterranean diet
  • Vegetarian diet
  • Cardiovascular disease