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The six food groups you must eat for a healthy heart

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There are six food groups that need to be in our diet if we’re going to keep our cardiovascular system healthy.

Fruits, vegetables, legumes—such as peas, lentils and chickpeas—nuts, fish and whole-fat dairy products combine to reduce our risk of heart disease, including stroke and heart attacks.

Meat is also fine to eat as long as it’s not processed, say researchers from McMaster University in Canada.

The researchers assessed the health-giving qualities of foods that are included in the PURE (Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiological) study and applied their rating to populations in five different regions of the world, involving around 245,000 people with and without cardiovascular disease (CVD).

It’s one of the first global research projects to include developing countries outside of Europe, where most research projects into diet have concentrated.

Although it’s important to include all the food groups in a healthy diet, moderation is the key, said Andrew Mente, one of the researchers.  Eat as much fruit and vegetables as you like, but go easy on the fish and whole-fat dairy.  “Moderate amounts of fish and whole-fat dairy are associated with a lower risk of CVD and mortality, and the same health outcomes can be achieved with moderate consumption of grains and meats—as long as they are unrefined whole grains and unprocessed meats,” he said.

The PURE diet recommends two to three servings a day of fruit and vegetables, two servings of dairy and one of nuts.  We should also be eating three to four servings a week of legumes and two to three weekly servings of fish.

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European Heart Journal, 2023; doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehad269 
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