Which of the latest food trends benefits heart health?
A new US review has investigated some of the health benefits - and controversies - associated with some of the latest food trends, with the authors offering their advice on foods such as legumes, coffee, and alcohol.
Carried out by researchers from the American College of Cardiology Nutrition & Lifestyle Workgroup of the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Council, this is their second paper looking at potential heart health benefits of controversial nutrition trends.
"The current nutritional recommendations show a heart-healthy diet is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts in moderation," said Andrew Freeman, the review's lead author. "However, there are many food groups which can result in confusion for patients, including dairy, added sugar, coffee and alcohol."
Including beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas, and soybeans, legumes have been shown to successfully reduce coronary heart disease and improve blood glucose, LDL cholesterol, also known as the "bad" cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, and weight.
Coffee is one of the more popular food trends of late, with a variety of studies suggesting that it may have a variety of health benefits, including a reduced risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. The researchers also added that there is no association between coffee and a higher risk of high blood pressure.
Both black and green tea without added sugars, sweeteners, or milks and creams were found to be associated with improved cardiovascular health and blood lipids.
Although low-fat dairy has been found to significantly lower blood pressure, other studies have found a link between eating dairy and increased LDL cholesterol, fractures and all-cause mortality. The researchers say it should be limited within the diet as evidence is currently mixed as to whether it is beneficial or harmful for health.
Added sugars such as table sugar and high fructose corn syrup have been linked to an increased risk for coronary heart disease, stroke and worsened atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. The researchers strongly recommend avoiding added sugars, including processed foods and sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda, fruit drinks and sports drinks.
Evidence is mixed on the effect of alcohol consumption on cardiovascular disease, although the team found that a low-to-moderate intake is associated with reduced risk of total cardiovascular disease. However, due to the increased risk of developing other conditions, the researchers don't recommend drinking alcohol for cardiovascular benefit."There is no perfect, one size fits all dietary pattern for preventing heart disease," Freeman said. "But, most of the evidence continues to reinforce that a predominantly plant-based diet lower in fat, added sugars, added salt, processed foods, and with limited if any animal products seem to be where the data is pointing us."