The link between herbal foods and heart health over a period of 10 years
Not all vegetarian foods are as healthy, according to research presented a few days ago at ESC Congress 2020. The study examined the link between the quantity and quality of herbal foods and heart health over a 10-year period.
Dr. Matina Kouvari of Harokopio University, Athens, Greece, said that plant foods have a variable nutritional quality and this finding was more evident in women. Previous research has shown that women tend to eat more herbal foods and fewer animal products than men. But this latest study suggests that this does not guarantee healthier food choices and, in turn, better health.
Most dietary studies define herbal diets simply as “vegetarian” or “poor in meat”, thus treating all plant foods as equal. The unique aspect of this study was that it examined the type of herbal food consumed, in addition to the total amount. Healthy herbal products were mainly the least processed foods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, olive oil and tea / coffee. Unhealthy herbal products consist of juices, sweetened drinks, refined cereals, potatoes and any kind of sweets (for example: chocolate, traditional Greek desserts, etc.).
The analysis was performed on 146 participants, obese people with normal blood pressure, fat and blood sugar. Their diet was assessed using a questionnaire about usual habits from the previous year. The questionnaire included 156 foods and beverages commonly consumed in Greece, with related photographs, to help define portion sizes.
In a decade, almost half of these obese participants developed high blood pressure, high blood lipids and high blood sugar – a combination that is particularly risky for heart health.
Men who ate more herbal foods were less likely to have this deteriorating health. A trend was also observed in women, but did not reach statistical significance.
In terms of the quality of herbal foods, healthier choices have been associated with maintaining blood pressure at normal levels, as well as lipids and blood sugar. In contrast, the consumption of unhealthy herbal foods has been associated with the development of high blood pressure, high blood lipids and high blood sugar. These relationships were stronger in women compared to men. It is important to note that the analysis was performed in obese people and the results should not be extended to other weight categories.
Here is another study that demonstrates, as Dr. Kouvari says, another reality: “Low meat consumption is good for heart health, especially when replaced with nutritious plant foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and olive oil ”. These principles are integrated into the Dahna app, which you can download for free from the Play Store or App Store.
So we need to be careful what vegetarian foods we choose and how processed they are. The Dahna app generates the list of generic foods so that you can choose vegetarian foods in the most natural forms possible.