Here Are The New Heart Healthy Food Trends

Forbes February 17, 2024

Lifestyle

Here Are The New Heart Healthy Food Trends

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) stand as the leading cause of mortality worldwide, claiming nearly 18 million lives each year. Studies indicate that adopting a heart-healthy diet, alongside other lifestyle modifications, can mitigate the likelihood of developing CVDs. A heart-healthy diet predominantly features fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while limiting intake of saturated fat, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar. It's characterized by ample fiber, potassium, and vitamins D and K, with moderation in alcohol consumption.

This Valentines Day and beyond, whether you have a partner or not, make it a priority to be kind to your heart. Whether you are getting rid of your love handles (see what I did there?) or lowering your blood pressure, these popular food trends will help to improve your heart health.

 
Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet is the overall winner for U.S. News & World Report’s best diets for 2024 and also the winner for the publication’s Best Heart-Healthy Diets for 2024. Drawing its inspiration from the culinary traditions of countries along the Mediterranean Sea, including Greece, Italy, and Spain, this diet features a rich array of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. In research published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, middle-aged and older individuals who adhered closely to the Mediterranean diet experienced a cardiovascular disease mortality risk up to 29% lower than those who did not follow the Mediterranean diet.

If you are looking for a convenient and delicious way to get Mediterranean diet meals on your table, try Modify Health, the winner of Best Healthy Meal Delivery Service for 2024 by U.S. News & World Report. The meal delivery service offers Mediterranean, Heart Healthy and even a 6-week Heart Friendly FIT Quickstart program with dietitian support.

 
DASH diet

What is it about the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, that has celebs such as Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Hudson swearing by its benefits? For one, the DASH diet plan is deliciously designed to aid in lowering high blood pressure and is promoted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. It is low in sugar, sodium (less than 2,300 mg per day) and red meat, and includes plenty of foods rich in vitamins and minerals, such as fruits and vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and low-fat dairy. These nutrients are critical in blood pressure regulation and heart health maintenance.

Strapped for time? Why not try BistroMD meal delivery service? Foods delivered by BistroMD cater to those with special dietary and health-related needs with a specially tailored “Heart Healthy Program” containing less than 600mg of sodium and less than 3.5 grams of saturated fat per serving.

 
Plant-Based Foods

According to a study published in European Heart Journal, the observed effect of adopting vegetarian and vegan diets leads to reductions in cholesterol and fats in the bloodstream associated with decreased risk of heart attacks— comparable to approximately one-third of the impact of daily medication.

In the United States, research led by Stanford Medicine and its collaborators, involving 22 sets of identical twins, revealed that adhering to a vegan diet can lead to notable improvements in cardiovascular health in as little as eight weeks.

Coincidentally, or not-so-coincidentally, Whole Foods ninth annual trend report reveals that plant-based food will continue to be a significant trend in 2024, with a return to fundamental non-processed ingredients.

 
Fermented Foods & Beverages

The process of fermentation involves the break down of carbohydrates, including sugar and starch by bacteria and yeast to produce acids or alcohol. Foods and beverages like cheese, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, tempeh, and yogurt are made through this process, giving them a unique tangy flavor. Probiotics—beneficial bacteria—also flourish as a result of fermentation. These have been shown to enhance heart health, lower total and "bad" LDL cholesterol, and lower blood pressure. Looking for a fun way to enjoy this trend? Head over to the Cayman Islands and indulge in Saucha Conscious Foods’ kimchi (made with napa cabbage, red cabbage, organic carrots, Cayman scallion, red pepper, and ginger), Powercraut (made with Cayman ginger and turmeric, and Spanish garlic), Red Craut (made with red cabbage and himalayan pink salt), sourdough breads, or kombucha (in flavors such as Cayman Lime Cayenne, or Moringa Mate, among others).

 
Mushrooms

Whole Foods refers to mushrooms as one of the “OGs of plant based foods” and predicts that they will be one of the top trendy ingredients for 2024. Resy, a restaurant booking platform, also predicts that mushrooms will take center stage on food menus in 2024. And in addition to being trendy and delicious, mushrooms are excellent for heart health.

Mushrooms are a significant dietary source of ergothioneine, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory amino acid associated with reduced triglyceride levels and potential prevention of arterial plaque formation, a crucial factor in heart disease. Research indicates a direct correlation between ergothioneine consumption from dietary sources and improved cardiovascular health.

Mushrooms are also one of the few natural food sources of vitamin D, and contain beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that aids in the reduction of blood cholesterol levels.

Whole Foods recommends Smallhold Organic Blue Oyster Mushrooms as a delicious option for your home kitchen.

 
Mindful Eating

A Brown University study, published in JAMA Network Open reveals that mindfulness-based healthy eating can improve self-awareness and diet adherence in individuals with elevated blood pressure, helping people stick to a heart-healthy diet.

Mindfulness entails cultivating heightened awareness of one's thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations in the current moment. Practicing mindfulness while eating involves fully engaging all senses—physical and emotional—to savor and appreciate the food selections one makes.

The mindfulness-based blood pressure reduction program used in the Brown study, taught skills such as meditation, yoga, self-awareness, attention control and emotion regulation. These skills were then directed at dietary behaviors associated with lower blood pressure.

 
Doing Away with Ultra-Processed Foods

Ultra-processed foods (UPF) undergo extensive industrial processing and are packed with additives, preservatives, flavorings, and artificial ingredients and are typically high in unhealthy fats, sugars, salt, and calories. Among UPFs are sugary snacks, packaged baked goods, ready-to-eat meals, processed meats, sugary drinks, and various convenience foods. Consistent consumption of these foods is linked to many health concerns. In a large observational prospective study, published in journal, BMJ, higher consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular, coronary heart, and cerebrovascular diseases.

Global Market Intelligence and Research Agency, Mintel predicts that health-conscious consumers are seeking out menus with fewer processed foods— and restaurants will respond by prioritizing menus with nutritious, whole foods. The emphasis will be on offering meals that are perceived as healthy, featuring wholesome, unprocessed ingredients.

As the leading cause of mortality worldwide, it is no wonder that heart health has become such a popular concern in consumer diets. According to Glanbia Nutritionals, 20% of consumers purchase functional foods or beverages specifically to boost heart health.

With all of these trends connected to greater health consciousness in general, consumers can expect to see more transparency from food manufacturers and retailers. Emphasis on Front of Package labeling (FOPL) will be greater than ever before.

Ultimately, the consumer approach to heart health is no longer reactive. In the months and years to come, we can expect to see a greater proactive push towards balanced diets rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, while limiting intake of processed foods, added sugars, and sodium, with an overall focus on healthy living.


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