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What is the American Heart Association's recommended diet?

The American Heart Association (AHA) fights an ongoing battle with heart disease. This battle includes exercise and diet recommendations as well as other healthy lifestyle recommendations. The association's diet guidelines consist of low fat and sodium choices.

Overview of the diet

Overview The association's nutritious diet is commonly known as the "heart smart diet." This diet aims at weight management and consumption of heart healthy foods. Overall, the diet is much like the food pyramid only with sodium, saturated fat and processed food recommendations. Do's The American Heart Associations diet suggests than an individual consume at least four to five cups of fruits and vegetables daily. According to the AHA, an individual should consume at least three to five ounces servings of fish weekly, and preferably an oily fish such as trout or salmon The AHA recommends that an individual consume at least three one-ounce servings of high fiber whole grains -- such as whole grain pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat bread and bran - daily. AHA recommends at least four servings of legumes, seeds or nut are eaten per week. Don't AHA guidelines suggest consuming less than 1500 mg of sodium per day. With this particular diet there is an allowance of only 450 calories or 36 ounces of sugar-sweetened drinks. Not more than two servings of processed meat are allotted per week and the saturated fat limit is less than seven percent of your total intake.

Why is it recommended?

Benefits of recommended foods American Heart Association guidelines state consuming at least four servings of nuts per week is ideal. This is because nuts are high in protein, reduce cholesterol and contain high amounts of vitamin E - the antioxidant responsible for reversing cellular damage in the heart. The diet recommends fish because of its high vitamin A and D content. Vitamin A is an antioxidant which improves blood flow. Of the A vitamins, beta carotene is preferred. Vitamin D protects against a major risk factor of cardiovascular disease - hypertension. The AHA's heart smart diet recommends eating oily fish for its omega 3 fatty acids. The AHA states that these fatty acids lower blood pressure slightly, decrease the likelihood of arrhythmia, decrease triglyceride levels and slows the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque. Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber. Whole grains also contain folate, a B vitamin that the body needs to produce red blood cells. Reasons for foods to void Heart diets, like this one advise against the consumption of excessive sodium levels because of sodium's negative effects. Sodium increase blood pressure and the risk of having a stroke or heart attack. The regulation of saturated fats is because of their association with high cholesterol.

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