Heart Docs Analyze Trends, Name Healthiest Foods

MONDAY, July 23, 2018 (HealthDay News) — For heart benefits, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, beans and grains remains the way to go, according to a new research review.

The review, by an American College of Cardiology (ACC) nutrition committee, examined the evidence on a few diet “hypes.”

Among the findings: Omega-3 fats and legumes (including beans, lentils and peas) have good evidence of heart benefits. Coffee and tea, meanwhile, are reasonable choices — just hold the cream and sugar. And full-fat dairy foods should probably be avoided.

Some other foods with purported heart benefits — including seaweed and fermented foods — might be good options. But little research has been done so far.

So should you eat nothing but legumes, fish and coffee? No, said Dr. Andrew Freeman, lead author of the review.

Studies try to examine individual foods or food groups. But in everyday life, “it’s the overall diet that matters,” said Freeman, who directs cardiovascular prevention and wellness at National Jewish Health in Denver.

“And the evidence supports a predominantly plant-based diet, without added sugars or processed foods,” Freeman said.

That means plenty of fruits, vegetables, fiber-rich grains, legumes and nuts, Freeman said. He stressed the importance of getting nutrients from “whole foods,” rather than supplements.

“Whenever we try to pull something out of a plant, we never do it justice,” Freeman said.

Angela Lemond, a registered dietitian who was not involved in the review, agreed.

“Supplements are just isolated nutrients, without the other beneficial food components created by nature,” said Lemond, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The review is in the July 31 Journal of American College of Cardiology. It’s the second one the ACC panel has done on “controversial nutrition trends.”

Freeman said many patients want to know more about the specific foods and nutrients that are heart-healthy.

“People are starting to realize that medications are great, but diet and lifestyle are critical, too,” he said.

However, there is a lot of conflicting information, and misinformation, out there. And, Freeman said, doctors usually have very little education in nutrition.