Dr. John Day
Dr. Day is a cardiologist specializing in heart rhythm abnormalities at St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. He graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical School and completed his residency and fellowships in cardiology and cardiac electrophysiology at Stanford University. He is the former president of the Heart Rhythm Society and the Utah chapter of the American College of Cardiology.
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
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.