When we consider our food, we may think of farmers, gardens or even the aisles of the supermarket. But lately, medical schools are providing some of the most groundbreaking thoughts on food, looking beyond drugs to the protective health benefits of whole foods.
Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University and Northwestern University are making the connection between diet and heart health.1
The results of their work offer scientific evidence of something nature has known from the beginning: We are what we eat, meaning, our eating habits can affect our risk for disease.
Researchers took a closer look at the prevalence of cardiovascular disease, including its rise in occurrence in young adults — even though it is largely preventable — and worked to identify the factors of a heart-healthy diet. Their findings included a validation for whole foods — that it's not just the individual nutrients we consume but the foods that contain them.1 We should not simply look at nutrients by themselves, but as whole foods. For instance, taking vitamin C is not the same as drinking orange juice, nor is drinking orange juice the same as eating an orange.
The findings show that modifications to our diet matter to health.1 Foods with established heart benefits are higher in dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, potassium, other minerals, healthy fatty acids and phytonutrients. Specifically we should consume more:
Whole foods provide a more complete nutrient package and work together to contribute to heart health.1 While some diets may preach exclusion, our bodies need variety from all food groups to be at their best.
The best way to achieve a blend of heart-healthy foods is to focus on quality along with quantity.1 Choose foods that deliver the right kinds of fiber, such as whole grain, complex carbohydrates and monounsaturated fats like olive oil.
As science moves forward, solidifying the relationship between food and wellness, we're able to make more informed decisions about our health. And take comfort in the knowledge that what we choose to eat impacts more than our taste buds; it also affects our wellbeing.