#343 Dr. Day’s 10 Food Suggestions for Longevity and Cardiovascular Health

Dr. Day’s 10 Food Suggestions for Longevity and Cardiovascular Health

Building and maintaining a healthy diet is a cornerstone for longevity and cardiovascular health. The choices we make about what we eat and drink can have a profound impact on our well-being, energy levels, and long-term health. In this article, I will share my 10 food suggestions for longevity and cardiovascular health.

For those readers looking for a deeper dive on nutrition for longevity and cardiovascular health, please check out my books The Longevity Plan and The AFib Cure. In each of these books I provide a chapter on how to optimize nutrition, including meal suggestions, for longevity and cardiac health.

1. Be Careful with Grains

While there has been a recent wave of books and websites vilifying grains, the scientific literature doesn’t support this belief. It is processed grains that should be a cause for concern, as they are essentially sugary products responsible for the obesity crisis and the prevalence of conditions like atrial fibrillation, diabetes, and a premature death.

When it comes to grains, moderation is key. While they can certainly be a part of a balanced diet, it’s important to consume them in appropriate quantities. For individuals aiming to lose weight, temporarily eliminating grains from their diet until they reach their target weight may be worth considering. This allows for better control over calorie intake and can help with weight management.

When incorporating grains into your diet, opt for whole or intact grains rather than processed ones. Whole grains retain their nutrient-rich bran and germ, providing essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Processed grains, on the other hand, have been stripped of these valuable components, leaving behind little more than refined starch.

Flourless bread, such as Ezekiel bread, can be a healthier alternative for those seeking a grain option that won’t cause a rapid spike in glucose levels. Without the finely ground flour, the release of glucose into the bloodstream is more gradual, providing sustained energy and reducing the risk of blood sugar imbalances.

Another option to consider is sourdough bread. The fermentation process involved in making sourdough lowers the glycemic response of the bread, meaning it causes a slower rise in blood sugar levels compared to conventional bread.

Remember, everyone’s nutritional needs and sensitivities are different, so it’s important to listen to your body and make choices that work best for you.

2. Nuts and Seeds Daily in Moderation

When it comes to nuts and seeds, they are nutritional powerhouses that offer a wide range of health benefits. While some popular health books and websites may have demonized peanuts, it’s important to look at the scientific evidence. From a scientific standpoint, peanuts provide similar health benefits as other nuts. So, if you enjoy them, there’s no need to exclude them from your diet.

Incorporating a variety of nuts and seeds into your eating routine is beneficial. Each type brings its unique combination of nutrients, including healthy fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The wider the variety, the better, as different nuts and seeds offer varying profiles of beneficial compounds.

While I recommends nuts and seeds daily, it’s important to consume nuts and seeds in moderation. They are energy-dense foods, meaning they contain a high number of calories. Keeping portion sizes in check is key to avoid excessive calorie intake. The good news is that nuts and seeds can actually help with feelings of satiety due to their high fiber and protein content so you don’t always feel so hungry.

When enjoying nuts and seeds, be mindful of added flavors, coatings, or salt. Opt for raw or lightly roasted varieties whenever possible to maximize their nutritional value and avoid unnecessary additives.

Consuming nuts and seeds regularly has been associated with numerous positive outcomes for overall health. They have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, improved cholesterol levels, and better blood sugar control. Incorporating a variety of nuts and seeds into your diet can support brain function, lower inflammation, and contribute to healthy aging.

Remember, individual nutritional needs may vary, so it’s important to listen to your body and choose the nuts and seeds that you enjoy and suit your dietary preferences.

3. Fruits and Vegetables: 9 Servings Daily

When it comes to fruits and vegetables, they are the foundation of a healthy diet. Aim to include a generous amount of these nutrient-packed foods in your daily meals. I recommend consuming a total of 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, with the majority of those servings coming from vegetables.

Eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables is important to ensure you receive a diverse array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Each fruit and vegetable offers unique nutritional benefits, so incorporating a variety is key to obtaining a well-rounded nutrient intake.

When preparing vegetables, it’s best to avoid drowning them in cheese sauces or dressings that can add unnecessary calories, saturated fat, and sodium. Instead, opt for healthier cooking methods such as steaming, roasting, or sautéing with minimal oil. This allows the natural flavors and nutrients of the vegetables to shine.

One group of vegetables that deserves special attention is cruciferous vegetables. These vegetables are known for their exceptional health benefits. Examples of cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, and bok choy. These vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and various bioactive compounds that have been associated with reduced cancer and cardiovascular risk and improved overall health.

When it comes to fruits, berries stand out as a particularly nutritious choice. Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. They have a low glycemic response, meaning they have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels. The high fiber content in berries further supports satiety and digestive health.

Remember, these recommendations are general guidelines, and individual nutritional needs may vary. It’s important to choose fruits and vegetables that you enjoy and suit your dietary preferences. By focusing on a variety of vegetables, with an emphasis on cruciferous vegetables, and incorporating nutrient-rich berries into your fruit intake, you can maximize the nutritional benefits of these plant-based foods.

4. Legumes Daily

Legumes are an incredibly nutritious and versatile food group that often gets overlooked. Including legumes in your diet is highly beneficial, and I recommend incorporating them into your meals on a daily basis.

Legumes encompass a wide range of plant-based foods, including beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, and Edamame or soybeans. These humble yet powerful legumes offer an abundance of nutrients, including protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are also typically low in fat and cholesterol-free.

It’s worth noting that soybeans, a type of legume, have faced some criticism in popular literature and websites. However, when it comes to unprocessed whole soybeans, the scientific data tells a different story. The demonization of soybeans stems mainly from concerns about their phytoestrogen content. However, extensive research indicates that consuming unprocessed whole soybeans have been associated with various health benefits, including improved heart health, reduced risk of certain cancers, and better bone health. It’s important to distinguish between whole soybeans and heavily processed soy products when considering their impact on health. Incorporating whole soybeans into your diet, such as edamame, can be a nutritious and beneficial choice.

Including legumes in your daily meals has numerous health benefits. They contribute to heart health by reducing cholesterol levels, supporting weight management due to their high fiber content and ability to promote satiety, and aiding in blood sugar control. Legumes also provide essential nutrients for overall well-being, such as potassium, magnesium, and folate.

To incorporate legumes into your diet, try adding them to salads, soups, stews, or as a base for vegetarian dishes. You can also enjoy them in spreads like hummus or as a filling for tacos and burritos. The possibilities are endless!

Remember, legumes are a fantastic addition to a balanced and nutritious diet. Aim to include them in your meals on a daily basis to reap their many health benefits and enjoy their delicious flavors.”

5. Dairy is a Personal Choice

When it comes to dairy, it’s important to recognize that its consumption is a personal choice. While dairy products can be a source of various nutrients, such as calcium, protein, and vitamin D, it’s worth reviewing the scientific data to make an informed decision.

Contrary to common belief, consuming three servings of dairy daily is not a necessity for maintaining healthy bones. Interestingly, cultures with the highest consumption of dairy don’t have lower rates of osteoporosis or bone fractures. This suggests that other dietary and lifestyle factors play significant roles in bone health.

While some studies have suggested a potential link between dairy consumption and certain health benefits, including improved bone density and reduced risk of colorectal cancer, the overall scientific evidence is mixed. Moreover, dairy products can be problematic for individuals with lactose intolerance or milk allergies.

If you choose to include dairy in your diet, opting for unsweetened fermented options may be a better choice. Fermented dairy products, such as plain yogurt, kefir, and certain types of cheese, undergo a fermentation process that can enhance digestibility and increase the availability of certain nutrients. Additionally, fermented dairy products may contain beneficial probiotics that support gut health.

It’s worth noting that there are plenty of non-dairy sources of calcium and other essential nutrients. Foods like leafy green vegetables, fortified plant-based milks, tofu, almonds, and sesame seeds can provide adequate calcium intake. Furthermore, maintaining a balanced diet rich in a variety of plant-based foods can contribute to overall bone health.

Ultimately, the decision to consume dairy or not is a personal one. It’s important to consider your individual health needs, preferences, and any dietary restrictions or intolerances you may have. Listening to your body and choosing the best options that work for you is key to maintaining a well-rounded and nutritious diet.

6. The Right Meats in Moderation

When considering meat consumption, it’s valuable to examine the dietary practices of the healthiest and longest-lived cultures worldwide. These cultures typically consume meat sparingly as part of a balanced diet. Here are some key points to consider when making informed choices about meat:

Choose Wild and Organic Meats: Opting for wild or organic meats whenever possible can be a healthier choice. Wild game meats like venison or elk are leaner and offer a distinct nutrient profile compared to conventionally raised meats. Organic meats are produced without antibiotics or hormones, providing an option for those seeking to minimize their exposure to these substances.

Prioritize Fish over Red Meat: Wild fish, especially fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, are preferable to red meat. They are rich in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, essential for heart and brain health. Additionally, fish offer protein, vitamins, and minerals that contribute to a well-rounded diet.

Chicken as an Alternative: If poultry is your preference, chicken is generally considered a leaner option compared to red meat. It can be a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Choosing organic or pasture-raised chicken may provide additional benefits related to animal welfare and potential differences in nutrient composition.

Moderation is Key: Regardless of the meat you choose, moderation is crucial. Incorporating a variety of protein sources into your diet, such as legumes, nuts, seeds, and plant-based alternatives like tofu or tempeh, is essential. Balancing your protein intake with a diverse range of plant foods ensures a wide array of nutrients and supports overall health. Ultimately, the decision about meat consumption is personal.

Some individuals opt to reduce or eliminate meat from their diets due to ethical, environmental, or health concerns. Others may include small amounts of meat as part of a balanced approach. The key is to prioritize high-quality sources, consume meat in moderation, and maintain a diverse and nutrient-rich overall diet.

By making conscious choices about meat and considering other protein alternatives, you can craft a diet that aligns with your values and supports your well-being. Remember, a balanced approach and individual preference play significant roles in creating a sustainable and nourishing dietary pattern.

7. Eggs are a Personal Choice

Eggs have been a subject of debate in the scientific literature, and the conclusions can be mixed. While eggs are a source of high-quality protein and contain essential nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, their impact on health can vary among individuals.

For those without high cholesterol or heart disease, eggs can be a reasonable option to include in a balanced diet. However, it’s important to consider your individual health needs and consult with a healthcare professional if you have specific concerns.

Some studies have suggested that the dietary cholesterol in eggs may not have as significant an impact on blood cholesterol levels as previously thought. Nonetheless, moderation is key, and it’s advisable to monitor your overall cholesterol intake from various dietary sources. Additionally, the way eggs are prepared can also affect their healthiness. For example, opting for boiled or poached eggs over fried eggs cooked in unhealthy oils can make a difference.

As with any food, it’s important to listen to your body and make choices that work best for your individual health and preferences.

8. Foods to Minimize or Avoid

When it comes to optimizing your diet, there are certain foods that are best minimized or avoided altogether due to their limited nutritional benefits and potential negative impact on health. Here are some examples:

Sugar: Sugar provides empty calories and lacks significant nutritional value. Consuming excessive amounts of sugar has been linked to various health issues, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Minimizing or avoiding added sugars, such as those found in sugary beverages, desserts, and processed snacks, can be beneficial for overall health.

Fast Foods and Fried Foods: Fast foods and fried foods are often high in unhealthy fats, sodium, and calories, while lacking essential nutrients. Regular consumption of these foods has been associated with an increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and other health problems. Minimizing or avoiding these foods can support a healthier lifestyle.

Processed Foods: Processed foods, such as packaged snacks, sugary cereals, and pre-packaged meals, are often loaded with additives, preservatives, and unhealthy fats. They tend to be low in fiber and essential nutrients. Reducing reliance on processed foods and opting for whole, unprocessed alternatives can contribute to a more nutritious diet.

By minimizing or avoiding foods high in added sugars, fast foods, fried foods, and processed snacks, and instead opting for healthier alternatives like dark chocolate, you can make positive choices for your overall well-being.

9. Make Dark Chocolate (in moderation) Your Desert Choice

When it comes to desserts, it’s possible to satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthier way. One recommended option is dark chocolate.

The higher the cocoa content, the better, as it tends to have a lower sugar content. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, specifically flavonoids, which have been associated with various health benefits. These antioxidants can help reduce inflammation, improve heart health by supporting healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and potentially enhance cognitive function.

However, it’s important to enjoy dark chocolate in moderation, as it still contains calories. Aim for a small portion, and choose varieties with minimal or no added sugars.

10. Make Water Your Drink of Choice

When it comes to choosing beverages, opting for the right options can significantly contribute to a healthy lifestyle. Here are some recommendations for what to drink:

Water: Water should be your go-to beverage choice. It is essential for hydration and has zero calories. By drinking water, you can quench your thirst without adding unnecessary calories to your diet. If plain water seems boring to you, try infusing it with slices of lemon, cucumber, or adding fresh fruits like strawberries to enhance the flavor naturally.

Minimize or Avoid Caloric Drinks: It’s advisable to minimize or avoid caloric beverages such as sugary sodas, fruit juices, energy drinks, and sweetened teas. These drinks can be high in added sugars, providing empty calories without providing a sense of fullness or satisfying hunger. Opting for healthier, low-calorie alternatives can make a significant difference in your overall calorie intake.

Artificial Sweeteners: While artificial sweeteners may seem like a low-calorie alternative, it’s best to minimize or avoid them as well. Some research suggests that frequent consumption of artificial sweeteners may have adverse effects on metabolic health and contribute to cravings for sweet foods. Instead, opt for natural alternatives or moderate your intake of sweeteners.

Smoothies: Smoothies can be a nutritious option, especially when made with the right ingredients. Incorporate plenty of greens, such as spinach or kale, into your smoothies for a boost of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Adding berries not only adds natural sweetness but also provides antioxidants and fiber. To enhance the nutritional value, include nuts and seeds for healthy fats and added protein.

Avoid adding excessive amounts of sweeteners, and let the natural sweetness of the fruits shine through. By prioritizing water as your main beverage, avoiding caloric drinks, minimizing artificial sweeteners, and incorporating nutrient-dense ingredients into your smoothies, you can make healthier choices for your overall hydration and well-being. Remember, staying well-hydrated is crucial, and water remains the best choice to satisfy your body’s needs.

The Photo for this Article

The accompanying photo captures a memorable moment from a recent adventure—a long mountain bike ride in Park City, Utah. This weekend excursion took us along the scenic Wasatch Crest trail, where my son and I immersed ourselves in the breathtaking beauty of the surroundings. The photo showcases Desolation Lake, a serene body of water nestled amidst the picturesque landscape. It serves as a reminder of the joys of outdoor exploration and the importance of incorporating physical activity into a balanced and healthy lifestyle.


The information provided in this blog article is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your diet or any medical condition. The author and publisher of this article are not responsible for any adverse effects or consequences resulting from the use or application of the information presented here.

Disclaimer Policy: This website is intended to give general information and does not provide medical advice. This website does not create a doctor-patient relationship between you and Dr. John Day. If you have a medical problem, immediately contact your healthcare provider. Information on this website is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Dr. John Day is not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your medical decisions.

  1. Love the newsletter, and I have been listening to your podcasts while I walk for exercise. Thank you for your dedication to helping people with afib. It is nice to see a doctor who isn’t inclined to go straight to medication when there are other options.

  2. I really enjoy the newsletters. I eat a healthy diet but I always learn some additional useful tidbit.
    Thank you so much.

    • Great advise thank you hopefully it will help my tired thyroid by changing my diet and following your nutrition great diet you submitted a nutritious diet

  3. I stopped drinking strong coffee in February this year and my Atrial Fibrillation stopped as well! Just amazing, six months later and NO A.FIB! Can’t wait to tell my Cardiologist next month. Hopefully he will allow me to stop taking the toxic Amiodarone medication! Many thanks for your interesting articles.

  4. Following your suggestions for sure, but if people with A-Fib avoid caffeine, doesn’t even the good antioxidant dark chocolate still have it?

  5. Thank you for your willingness to provide scientific information, along with sensible suggestions as to food choices that will enhance ones quality of life.

  6. Loved the information. I wonder what you think of coconut flour and goats milk? Any problem adding these to my smoothies?