Time to ditch the fad diets says Heart Foundation

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Australians are being urged to ditch fad diets in an effort to focus more on their cardiovascular health.

A major review on the most effective diets was commissioned by the Heart Foundation in order to combat the rising prevalence of cardiovascular disease, which currently affects one in six Aussies.

The review found a number of diets that Australians could implement into their daily lives, with results showing up to a 20% drop in cardiovascular risk.

“It’s really not a complicated message,” states Professor Garry Jennings, National Chief Medical Advisor of the Heart Foundation. “It’s about variety, colour and a sustainable diet.”

The review also looked at the most common eating habits of Australians, with results showing that many of us are indulging in foods that are high in saturated fats and sodium, increasing the likelihood of coronary heart failure, heart disease as well as strokes.

“If we think less about what we need to cut out, and more about how we combine the basic healthy foods into healthy meals, it becomes a healthier way to think about and enjoy food,” said nutritionist Beth Meertens.

With Australian Bureau of Statistics data showing that as many as two million Aussies are on a diet in any one year, changing our way of thinking about food is one of the Heart Foundation’s priorities.

“Rather than fixating on diets which focus on single nutrients or cutting out specific foods, people should focus on the foods that they can eat and enjoy, and how to build those foods into a pattern of eating that is sustainable over the long term,” added Ms Meertens.

Which diets should Australians look into?

While drastically changing our diets after a weekend of bingeing on Easter chocolate seems like a good idea, sustainable healthy eating habits, along with regular exercise, are still the best ways to lose weight over the long term and improve health, with the Heart Foundation updating its Healthy Eating Principles to show Aussies what to eat.

For those that need a bit more help on the dieting front, the Heart Foundation also highlighted some of the better diets to combat cardiovascular disease.

The Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as 20%, as well as aid weight loss, according to the Heart Foundation. It focuses on the regular consumption of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, fish and low-fat dairy foods.

“The DASH diet has been around for a while. It’s probably the best proven one in terms of its effects on risk factors for heart disease,” said Mr Jennings.

Other effective diets include the Mediterranean and Prudent diets, which are similar in their emphasis on fresh fruit and vegetables and lack of fatty foods.

If you’re worried about your cardiovascular health, it’s best to consult with your local GP before altering your diet.

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