Fruits, Vegetables and Legumes
The preferred portions are at least 3 servings of vegetables a day, at least servings of fruits a day or 3 servings of legumes a day. Whole grains such as barley, whole oats, quinoa, whole oats, corn, brown rice should be kept under 3 servings a day. For tree nuts, the recommended amount is more than a serving a day.
Legumes are rich in vegetable protein, folate, and magnesium, fiber and polyphenol. Their consumption is actually linked to a reduction in incidence of fatal cardiovascular (heart) disease, as well as improvements in glucose, lipids (cholesterol), blood pressure and body weight.
Tree nuts are rich in unsaturated fats, fiber, protein, polyphenols, phytosterols, tocopherols, and non-sodium minerals. Recent clinical trial evidence suggest an improvement in insulin sensitivity (better diabetes control), LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), and inflammation. Less robust evidence from observational studies suggests a reduction in fatal cardiovascular disease.
Is white (refined) rice safe? Well, based on the clinical evidence, this is depends on one’s ethnicity. For example, Muraki et al reported no increased risk for cardiovascular disease in three large cohorts in the United States. On the other hand, Hu et al reported an increased risk for type 2 diabetes in 3 Asian cohorts and interestingly no increased risk for type 2 diabetes in 4 Western cohorts.
Olive Oil, especially extra virgin olive oil (unrefined olives which are cold pressed) is high in various polyphenols which are responsible for protection against diabetes and heart disease. Ideally, more than 4 tablespoons a day is recommended. Although even a diet with more than half a teaspoon of olive oil a day is associated with fewer cardiovascular (heart) complications in US adults.
Fish (Sea food)
Ideally fish consumption 3 times a week is recommended. There are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, zinc, selenium, iodine, B vitamins, calcium and magnesium. Low mercury fish is generally advised. These include salmon, herrings, trout, anchovies and sardines. Avoid charring fish during its preparation since this can introduce possible carcinogens into the diet.
Poultry and Dairy
Poultry should be consumed in moderation. Very large prospective studies of people in the United States suggests than eggs do not increase the risk for cardiovascular disease.
For dairy products, the suggestion is to consume fermented, low fat versions such as yogurt, soft cheese or kefir.
Processed meats including bacon, sausage, hot dogs, ham, deli meats and cold cuts should be best avoided. Same applies to butter and margarine. Additional foods that fall in this category include soda drinks (including diet versions), sweetened fruit juices, and all refined carbohydrates should be avoided.