Cardiovascular diseases abbreviated as CVD are among the major contributors of disease burden worldwide and its epidemics have been advancing all over the world. Diet together with nutrition have been pointed as some of the major risk factors for most of the cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and coronary heart disease as well as other cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity, type II diabetes, and high blood pressure. It is evident that kind of diet that people take has a significant implication on their health as well as the kind of diseases they have a higher risk of having. It is, therefore, crucial that people have the right nutrients, food groups, minerals in their diet and at the same time observe the necessary dietary patterns.
A prudent health diet is generally similar to the diet recommended for heart attack patients and characterized by elevated intake of legumes, vegetables, whole grains, fruit, fish and poultry. These recommendations come from a new paradigm, which indicates that observing a dietary pattern is more important than observing individual nutrients. In addition, research has indicated that there is food synergy where there is a magnified beneficial effect taking healthy foods consisting different food types (Enas, Senthilkumar, Chennikkara, & Bjurlin, 2003).
There are main features that are associated with a prudent healthy diet. These features include fat content, number of eggs and the type and amount of meat. A prudent healthy diet should have a low fat content. In children, this can be achieved by giving them skim or low-fat milk. This kind of milk is as healthy as whole milk only that it contains few calories and less fat. A prudent diet restricts the number of eggs taken to a maximum of four eggs in a week. The egg yolk contains high cholesterol, which if taken often may increase the blood cholesterol and consequently raising the risk of having cardiovascular diseases (Fanjoy, 2010). Eating fish is more prudent than taking red meat. Beef, which is the major red meat that is consumed, contains high levels of saturated fats and their consumption should be limited to not more than three occasions in a week. It is also important not to serve organ meats such as kidney and liver more than two times in one week since this meat contains high levels of cholesterol.
In addition, a prudent healthy diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, fish, whole grains, and lean cuts of meat. This is unlike the traditional Western diet, which is characterized by high amounts of processed meat, dairy products that are high in fat, refined grains, desserts, sweets and French fries. The content that is low in a prudent diet but high in Atherogenic or Western diet include calorie content, saturated fat, energy dense foods, trans fats, fried foods, glycemic index and load, refined carbohydrates, processed foods and high fat meats, as well as full-fat dairy products. Contents of prudent diet that are high but low in Atherogenic or Western diet include monosaturated fat, lean meat, low fat dairy products, fruits and vegetables, nuts, soluble and insoluble fibers, and soy products. While Western diet encourages binge drinking, prudent healthy diet advocates for regular consumption but in low quantities.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), USA, any food is considered to be of low fat when it contains not more than 3 grams of total fat in one serving. When a meal contains less than 3 grams of fat in a serving of 100 grams and less than 30% calories is also considered to be of low fat. FDA also classifies low saturated fat as those fats that provide not more than 1 gram of fat per serving and calories that do not exceed 15 percent. Meals that are low in cholesterol are those that provide 20 mg of cholesterol or less and not more than 2 grams of saturated fat per serving. FDA also recognizes a meal low in sodium as one that provides not more than 140 mg per serving (Fanjoy, 2010).
Various health benefits have been associated with the different components of a prudent healthy diet. A diet having a high content of whole grains acts as a good source of fiber content, minerals, and vitamins E and B. Whole grains delay the rate at which gastric emptying takes place increasing time difference between meals. Whole grains also raise the response of insulin in the body and improves the sensitivity of insulin in the cells. Whole grain improves the lipid content in the body by increasing the amount of high density lipoproteins (HDL). It also reduces insulin resistance and secretion, incidence and mortality of cardiovascular disease. Some of the whole grain meals include rye, whole wheat, corn, oats, barley, brown rice, wild rice, oatmeal, pumpernickel, popcorn, and pasta.
Fruits and vegetables are rich antioxidants, fiber, and flavonoids. High levels of vegetables and fruits reduce blood pressure, low density lipoproteins, homocysteine, cardiovascular disease incidence and mortality, and cancer. Fruits and vegetables also increase HDL level in the body. Some good types of fruits and vegetables include carrots, spinach, lettuce, yellow squash, tomato, citrus fruits, apple, pear, mango, pineapple, banana, guava, and papaya (Enas, Senthilkumar, Chennikkara, & Bjurlin, 2003).
Constant consumption of a prudent healthy diet has the capability to prevent cases of cardiovascular diseases and the complications associated with it to a similar magnitude as statins. It is thus important to begin this diet at an early age and continued indefinitely. It decreases the risk of having cardiovascular disease by 24%. This is in comparison to a 46% increased risk of having cardiovascular disease caused by the Western diet (Hu, 2003). It has been shown that having a consistent healthy pattern of eating a prudent diet reduces the chances of developing diabetes, as well as major coronary diseases (Adams & Standridge, 2006).
This kind of diet has been beneficial in many adults who had incidents such as heart attack or those at high risk of developing heart attack. Prudent healthy diet has also reported to be effective in the management of weight and thus controlling incidences of obesity, which increases the risk for other diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and other cardiovascular conditions. Although there is no evidence that this diet is beneficial in young children in slowing down the process of atherosclerosis, there is no doubt that this diet can provide protection against such situations. Since there is evidence that many of the children in the U. S. have cholesterol plaques forming in their arteries as a result of the high saturated fat diet and failure to exercise, it is recommended that a prudent healthy diet be implemented (Eden, 2010). Knowing that such a diet is healthy, low in calories, well balanced, low in saturated fat and cholesterol, there is thus no harm in putting people of all ages on such a diet. Introducing a prudent healthy diet to children has a long term benefit as such children will continue with the habit when they are adults. This may, therefore, go a long way in reducing cases of strokes and heart attacks.
This kind of dietary strategy that employ food-based dietary guidance that is simple and friendly is easy to be communicated to other people and the public at large. The strategy is also easy to implement. Achieving such a milestone may result to a population that is following a prudent dietary pattern and this means that there will be an overall reduction in the risks that result to diseases such as type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain forms of cancers (FDA, 2003).
The utmost emphasis that is given in a prudent healthy diet pattern is an increased amount of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, unsaturated oils, and fish in the diet while reducing the amount of sodium, saturated fats, and red meats. This aims at reducing the total amount of calories that are in the diet in order to help one maintain a healthy weight (Adams & Standridge, 2006). However, even after controlling the composition of the diet being taken, it is important to avoid overeating to avoid the same consequences that result after taking unhealthy diet. It is thus advisable that people practice prudent healthy dietary practices and avoid the Western diet due to its many healthy incidences that it causes.
Adams, S. M., & Standridge, J. B. (2006). What should we eat? Evidence from observational studies. Southern medical journal, 99(7), 744-748.
Eden, A. N. (2010). The Prudent Diet. Retrieved October 10, 2013, from http://www. pedsforparents. com/articles/4155. shtml
Enas, E. A., Senthilkumar, A., Chennikkara, H., & Bjurlin, M. A. (2003). Prudent diet and preventive nutrition from pediatrics to geriatrics: current knowledge and practical recommendations. Indian Heart Journal, 55(4), 310-338.
Fanjoy, A. (2010). What Is the Prudent Diet? Retrieved October 10, 2013, from http://www. livestrong. com/article/172993-what-is-the-prudent-diet/
FDA. (2003). The Priority for Use of the “ Prudent Diet” in Weight Management and Obesity Prevention. Retrieved October 10, 2013, from Food and Drug Administration: www. fda. gov/ohrms/dockets/dailys/03//03N-0338-emc-000002-01. doc
Hu, F. B. (2003). Plant-based foods and prevention of cardiovascular disease: an overview. Am J Clin Nutr, 78(3 Supp), 544S-551S.