With so many studies out there telling us what not to eat, we sometimes forget to focus on those foods we should eat—especially when it comes to a healthy heart. But a new study has researchers in New Zealand encouraging people to do just that: put more energy into eating the right foods to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
The study looked at health questionnaires completed by more than 15,000 older adults worldwide, all of whom already had heart disease. Findings revealed that those individuals who ate the highest amount of healthy foods were less likely to have a heart attack or stroke and also had a lower risk of heart disease-related death.
Specifically, the healthiest participants followed a Mediterranean-style diet rich in beneficial fats (especially from fish and olive oil), leafy green veggies, low-sugar fruits, nuts, and legumes. In contrast, those who followed a typical Western diet (high in sugar, unhealthy fats, and processed and fried foods) were the least heart-healthy among the group.
While further research is needed to confirm the questionnaire results, the takeaway here is that choosing the right foods has a positive effect on heart health. According to Dr. Ralph Stewart from Auckland City Hospital, “Traditionally, dietary advice has focused on avoiding unhealthy foods, but in terms of reducing risk, it’s probably increasing more healthy foods.”