Putting the Diet Together
You might have already noticed how much the recommendations for individual nutrients overlap when examined from a “whole food perspective”. If we want to increase fiber, mono- and polyunsaturated fats, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and B vitamin intake, and you want to lower saturated fat and sodium, then we can do so in surprisingly few moves!
Here are the top foods which will aid in lowering CVD risk:
Legumes and Veggies: Beans, lentils, and other legumes, along with most vegetables, are high in soluble fiber, folate, and potassium—triple whammy!
Nuts, Seeds, and Healthy Oils: Nuts, seeds, and healthy oils like olive oil are all high in monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats and low in saturated fat. They also contain other healthy phytonutrients which may help reduce CVD risk.
Fish and Poultry: Lean poultry products have only small amounts of saturated fat and larger amounts of polyunsaturated fat. Fish is particularly high in omega-3s, but unfortunately must be consumed somewhat sparingly due to concerns about mercury. Sardines are a favorite of mine because they contain over 2 g EPA/DHA per can (the full daily amount), have 1/14th the amount of mercury as tuna, and are also one of the best sources of CoQ10!
The following aren’t foods, but they are important changes:
Avoid Junk Food: Junk food is high in sodium, refined carbohydrates, and less-healthy fats. There is nothing beneficial about these foods, and if you are at high risk for CVD, you should avoid them like the plague.
Moderate Alcohol: If you drink moderately, don’t stop. If you don’t drink, don’t start.