Listen To Your Heart – The Good Foods And The Bad Foods!

We follow all those food pyramids and feel good about taking care of our health. We may just need to keep the food pyramids aside to stay healthy. A recent analysis of hundreds of studies suggests that our long-held beliefs on good foods and bad foods and the research on the impact of various foods on our body may be misguided.

Researchers revealed that one of the main reasons for the heart problems such as long-term heart failure, irreversible heart injury from coronary artery disease, heart muscle disease and multiple heart attacks is the bad food we consume.

An analysis conducted recently involved studying more than 200 studies involving millions of people, done by researchers throughout the years. Archives of Internal Medicine recently published the results of this analysis, which shows us that what we have gained in terms of knowledge in this area is not much. The analysis delves deep into the details of each and every study and provides explanation of the procedures that were followed by the researchers and how these studies were rated.

Vegetables, Nuts and Mediterranean Diet

The final analysis revealed that only three dietary factors have been proven to fight heart disease; a diet rich in vegetables, nuts rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (walnuts and others) and the Mediterranean diet. These foods are listed by researchers in the “good” heart foods list. The “bad” heart foods list consisted of starchy carbohydrates like white bread and the trans fats present in many of those yummy cookies and French fries we so love to snack on.

Mediterranean diet has always been touted as extremely beneficial and is said to reduce the risk of heart disease – rich in vegetables, whole grains, nuts, olive oil, cheese, legumes, yogurt and fish in comparison with a diet filled with red meat, processed meats, high fat and refined grains which forms the Western diet. Western diet also causes an increase in blood sugar levels due to the high glycemic index foods, such as pasta, bread and rice. All those processed baked and fried foods are high in trans-fatty acids. This analysis further emphasises the positive effects of the Mediterranean diet on our hearts.

Question Mark Foods

This analysis reveals a shorter list of foods that are good for the heart and a large grey area was found, which researchers call the “question mark” list, which obviously means researchers could not reach a conclusion whether these foods are good or bad. Eggs, milk, meat and many other foods take their place in this “unsure” list due to lack of strong evidence of their effect on our hearts.

They say that the criteria developed by the late British scientist, Austin Bradford Hill, were used in these studies. He is the famous scientist who has the distinction of establishing a link between smoking and lung cancer, which helped save millions of people worldwide. Following this criteria, researchers collected the results of multiple studies on a certain food or diet and rated the strength of evidence behind the claims and when a certain food showed a strong link with better heart health, they put that food or diet at the top of the list. The lower the food is on the list, the more harmful it is for heart health.

Heart Health

Remember, we are talking about heart health here. With various health advocates espousing different ways of eating and suggesting that eating certain foods can kill us, it can be quite scary and confusing for the consumers. Experts associated with this study suggest that this study should reduce the confusion over what to eat, because this is a large-scale analysis evaluating 50 years of research. In this context, study co-author, Dr. Sonia Anand from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario says, “I do research. I also buy groceries for my family every week and hope this study decreases the confusion around what we should eat and what we shouldn’t eat.”

Experts also advice consumers not to tear up their grocery lists based on these findings. Eating a variety of foods is more important than what exactly you are eating. You certainly don’t have to lose sleep over eating a burger or French fries at the movies. Just eat more of the good foods!