Plant-based diets like the Mediterranean and DASH diets are linked with better heart health. But do certain components of these diets stand out? A study published online July 6, 2023, by the European Heart Journal suggests that eating enough of six types of food common in these diets is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. The six food categories are fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, fish, and dairy products.
Researchers compiled a healthy diet score from 245,000 people from around the world. The score was determined by how much and how often people ate foods from these six categories. After more than nine years, the researchers found that people with the highest diet scores (meaning they regularly ate high quantities from the six categories) had fewer cases of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, strokes, and death than people with lower scores. The researchers also determined how many daily or weekly servings were linked to better health outcomes.
Average daily intake included
- two to three servings each of fruits and vegetables (a serving equals one apple or banana, 1 cup of leafy vegetables, or 1/2 cup of other vegetables)
- one serving of nuts (1 ounce per serving)
- two servings of dairy products (a serving equals 1 cup of milk or yogurt).
Weekly intake included
- three to four servings of legumes (a serving equals 1/2 cup beans or lentils)
- two to three servings of fish (3 ounces per serving).
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