Heart Healthy Diets - 2021 Ingredient Trends

What is a heart-healthy diet?

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the number one cause of death globally, accounting for almost 18 million annual deaths. Research has proven that eating a heart-healthy diet and making other lifestyle changes such as taking more exercise or stopping smoking can all help to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

A heart-healthy diet is one that is designed to reduce risk factors and increase the intake of foods that have been shown to support heart health. High-risk foods include saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol, and a diet that is low in fruit and vegetables can also put you at higher risk.

Health and wellness are increasingly important to consumers, who are taking a closer interest in the food and drink they consume and their potential health impact. Vegan and vegetarian diets are starting to emerge as a possible way of improving heart health. Compared to non-vegetarians, people who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet commonly have lower blood pressure and Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Even for flexitarians, reducing meat intake is thought to bring heart health benefits. However, further research is needed.

A heart-healthy diet is typically one that is:

  • High in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Low in saturated fat, sodium and sugar
  • High in fibre
  • Potassium-rich
  • High in Vitamins D and K
  • Low in alcohol

Top heart-healthy foods

Whole grains are a well-known heart-healthy food. Examples include oats, rye, barley, quinoa, and whole wheat. Research has shown that a diet rich in whole grains can lower LDL cholesterol and reduce blood pressure.

Blueberries, strawberries and blackberries contain several nutrients that can reduce the risk of heart disease and have been shown to lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol.

With an abundance of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, studies have linked avocados to reduced cholesterol levels, which decreases the risk of heart disease. Avocados are also high in potassium which lowers blood pressure, making them ideal for including in a heart-healthy diet.

Walnuts and Almonds benefit from a long list of nutrients that support overall health, including heart-healthy fibre and monounsaturated fats. Research has linked eating almonds to reduced LDL and HDL cholesterol levels, and walnuts can lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure.

Several studies have shown that diets high in leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach can provide support against heart disease. High in vitamin K and dietary nitrates, leafy green vegetables can help to reduce blood pressure, enhance blood clotting and maintain blood vessel cell function.

Heart-healthy diet product development trends

There are many potential opportunities for product development with heart health claims. Ingredients such as nuts and berries also align with other claims, such as gut health. They are relatively simple to incorporate into a range of products, including cereal snack bars, granola and smoothies. Plant-based meat alternatives present another opportunity, as there is a clear demand as consumers are increasingly conscious of their meat intake. Products that are high in fibre may also look to focus on both heart and gut health claims.

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