Eating well is essential to keeping your mood in check, your body healthy, and your skin young. (Not to go into full-blown mom mode, but eat your fruits and vegetables, people!) While sticking to a habitually healthy diet is usually enough to support your overall health, sometimes it’s nice to know which foods support specific bodily processes.
We’ve talked about the best foods for brain health and skin health, but what about heart health? It’s surely something to focus on in this day and age, seeing as cardiovascular disease is the primary cause of death in the U.S. In a new study published in The Journal of Nutrition, researchers from the Center for Metabolic Cardiovascular Health set out to determine which foods are best for lowering cholesterol and improving insulin regulation, among other indicators of general heart health.
The study was conducted with 25 overweight or obese individuals. Each person participated in two three-week-long “dietary intervention periods.” One was a “control” diet, where participants ate 60% of calories from carbohydrates, 16% of calories from protein, and 24% of calories from fats. The other diet was “experimental.” During this one, participants replaced 16% of their caloric intake that was previously consumed in refined starches and added sugars with egg protein and unsaturated fats from oils. Before and after each dietary period, participants were tested for cardiovascular risk indicators.
According to the study, “the replacement of ~16% of energy from refined starches and added sugars with a combination of egg protein and unsaturated fats improved blood sugar regulation (insulin sensitivity) and altered several markers of cardiovascular health, including lowering triglycerides and increasing low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the “bad” form of cholesterol) particle size.” In other words, replacing starch and sugar with egg protein and unsaturated fats (think vegetable oil, nuts, and fish) lowered the risk for cardiovascular disease.
The researchers note that these findings parallel the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans. So do away with refined sugars and starches (*sigh*), and load up your shopping cart with the healthy stuff. And, as always, don't forget to work in a little cardio.