A study published on March 31, 2021 in the Journal of the American Heart Association has found that regular exercise and a healthy diet in your middle years might be the key to achieving optimal cardiometabolic health when you’re older. This healthy lifestyle can help you avoid metabolic syndrome, which is a group of five risk factors that can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. The five risk factors are high blood sugar, low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, high triglyceride levels, large waist circumference (apple-shaped body), and high blood pressure. If you have three or more of these risk factors, you have metabolic syndrome. Over 34% of adults in the US have metabolic syndrome and that number continues to increase.
The researchers found that following the US Department of Health and Human Services guidelines for physical activity alone reduced your chances of metabolic syndrome by 51%. These guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate activity like walking, or 75 minutes of rigorous activity like swimming per week.
They determined that following the HHS dietary guidelines alone reduces your risk of metabolic syndrome by 33%. These guidelines recommend consuming nutrient-dense foods and beverages while limiting those high in added sugars, saturated fat, sodium, as well drinking alcohol only in moderation. Their nutrient-dense list includes:
Vegetables of all types – dark green; red and orange; beans, peas, and lentils; starchy and other vegetables.
Fruits – especially whole fruit.
Grains – at least half of which are whole grain.
Dairy – including fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese, and/or lactose-free versions and fortified soy beverages and yogurt as alternatives.
Protein foods – including lean meats, poultry, and eggs; seafood; beans, peas, and lentils; and nuts, seeds, and soy products.
Oils – including vegetable oils and oils in food, such as seafood and nuts.
At The Know Food Diet, our goal is to continuously provide information on the best foods to consume for optimum health. If you use the HHS guidelines as a starting place, we’re certain you’ll find that you can build upon them and likely reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome by even more than 33%.
The researchers conclude that those who followed both the HHS guidelines for physical activity as well as the dietary guidelines had a 65% lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome. The earlier you start, the more likely you are to improve your health outcomes.