Eating for a healthy heart used to seem straightforward. Avoid foods heavy in cholesterol and salt and skip the fatty cuts of meat. Easier said than done, of course. But at least you knew what to watch out for. But new research has complicated all that old heart health advice. In just the past few years, studies have found dietary cholesterol, sodium, and fat—all the classic baddies—just aren't the heart wreckers we once thought them to be. Even saturated fat may be in line for a pardon. "Multiple recent reports find no association between dietary saturated fat intake and cardiovascular disease," says Jeff Volek, PhD, RD, a professor of food science at The Ohio State University. While it's true that serum saturated fatty acids—that is, saturated fat in your blood—are linked to higher rates of heart disease, Volek says swallowing saturated fat in the form of food doesn't appear to pump up your blood's levels of the stuff.
This falls in line with other recent findings on dietary fat and cholesterol. If a food contains something, that doesn't necessarily mean eating it will up your body's amounts. But what you eat still matters. A lot. "Food can nourish our bodies, or it can poison our bodies," says Kate Patton, a registered dietitian with the Cleveland Clinic's Heart and Vascular Institute. (Discover how to heal 95+ health conditions naturally with Eat for Extraordinary Health & Healing.) Here's the current wisdom on the best and worst foods for your ticker.
This article was originally published by our partners at Prevention.