What foods should I eat for heart healthy diet?

With Alice Lichtenstein, DSc, Diane McKay, PhD, Gaoxing Ma, PhD student, Shirin Pourafshar, PhD, and Amy Hess-Fischl, MS, RD, LDN, CDE

Here’s some good news about foods to improve diet and your health, just to change things up from the usual gloom and dietary doom. Making certain food choices may actually help you fight disease and lower your risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Making sure you include four disease-fighting foods in your diet is highly recommended based on a trio of studies1-3 being presented at the American Society for Nutrition meeting this week in Boston and a fourth study4 published in Nutrition & Diabetes.

What foods may elicit better health? Mushrooms, eggs, pecans, and plant sterols (found in plants, but more commonly found as a margarine spread).1-4

But first some perspective: “It’s important to keep in mind if you want to improve your diet to substitute rather than add,” says Alice Lichtenstein, DSc, Gershoff Professor of Nutrition Science and Policy and director and senior scientist at the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at Tufts University in Boston. She was not involved in the studies but reviewed them for EndocrineWeb.

What Can We Learn from These Food Studies?

Eggs Are Actually Good for our Heart and Overall Health

Reinforced by the results of this study,1 and supported by a growing body of evidence,5,6 eggs not only do not boost blood cholesterol as has been thought for decades, rather eating eggs seems to improve blood glucose as well as lead to increased low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the type of cholesterol known to clog arteries), and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL, the blood cholesterol that protects against cardiovascular disease.)

One large egg a day actually appears to reduce the risk of diabetes without driving up your serum cholesterol,1 says Shirin Pourafshar, PhD, a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow in nephrology at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville.

She randomly assigned 42 adults, ages 40 to 75 years, who had either prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, to eat one large egg a day or an equivalent amount of egg substitute for 12 weeks. Blood samples were analyzed for changes in levels of blood cholesterol and blood glucose.At the end of the three months, the group eating eggs had a 4.4% reduction in blood glucose.1 They also showed less insulin resistance, which is a good response indicating improved control over blood sugar levels.

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