Over the past decade, the rate of cardiometabolic diseases has skyrocketed by nearly 20%, making it the leading cause of death worldwide. If these figures come as a surprise, you will be shocked to know that most cardiometabolic diseases are preventable.

Cardiometabolic diseases refer to related conditions, including heart attack, diabetes, and insulin resistance. However, practicing healthy eating habits and exercising regularly can drastically reduce your chances of succumbing to this silent killer. If you have already been diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or any other cardiometabolic condition, the cardiometabolic food plan could save your life.

What is the Cardiometabolic Food Plan.

As the name suggests, the cardiometabolic food plan is a well-structured, long-term dietary plan to prevent and even reverse most cardiometabolic conditions. The cardiometabolic food plan helps reduce cardiometabolic dysfunctions, but it becomes a far more effective treatment plan when implemented in tandem with certain lifestyle changes, such as exercising regularly.

Your physician or nutritionist  typically organizes the structuring of a cardiometabolic food plan. They will consider your risk factors for cardiovascular disease, pre-existing health problems, and average activity level. Based on this, they will formulate a dietary plan that meets your needs and goals. The cardiometabolic food plan may help you live a longer and healthier life, when adhered to properly.

Elements of the Cardiometabolic Food Plan.

The cardiometabolic food plan is a phytonutrient-dense, metabolically-balanced method that helps the body regulate inflammation, insulin, and metabolism.

The food plan is labeled "cardiometabolic" because it encompasses cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. The causes of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases are very similar, and they include inflammation, insulin resistance, and stress - all of which can be addressed using the cardiometabolic food plan.

The primary elements of the cardiometabolic food plan include:

  • Employing a Mediterranean-like Approach to Nutrition. The Mediterranean diet became popular when it was discovered that those who lived in the Mediterranean region had a greatly reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Once this was discovered, the diet became the go-to for those at risk for cardiometabolic diseases, including cardiovascular disease.

The Mediterranean diet consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, and sizeable amounts of poultry, fish, and red meat. Researchers have found that it is not just one of these foods but the combination of all of them that effectively reduces metabolic diseases. However, the primary factor in the Mediterranean diet is eating fresh, whole foods and avoiding processed foods. Processed foods are prepackaged foods made for convenience, and they use subpar ingredients and are packed with unhealthy preservatives.

  • Identifying Targeted Calories. Targeting calories involves a physician or health practitioner establishing a specific optimal calorie intake for a patient. This calorie amount is derived from several factors, including body weight, metabolic rate, activity level, and a patient's cardiovascular risk factor status.

By implementing a cardiometabolic food plan that specifically indicates food groups and servings, individuals increase their chances of losing weight and achieving an optimal cardiometabolic balance. Many patients find that adding this structure to their daily eating makes it much easier to maintain a balanced diet. It is recommended that individuals work with a qualified physician or nutritionist to determine their key food plan needs, to meet all of their nutritional requirements.

  • Evaluating Low Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load. The glycemic index and glycemic load refer to the effect that specific foods have on blood sugar levels, and all foods affect blood sugar and insulin levels differently. Optimally, blood sugar levels should be consistent rather than going through peaks and troughs, as this causes spikes in insulin levels. When blood sugar and insulin levels fluctuate, it can be detrimental to the body, especially for those already at risk for cardiometabolic diseases or diabetes.

If the glucose level remains high for an extended period, it can damage the blood vessels and blood cells. It can also harm areas of the body, such as the eyes and kidneys because they are particularly sensitive to increased blood sugar levels. Therefore, patients must eat foods that keep blood sugar and glucose at optimal levels.

  • Committing to Scheduled Eating Times. On average, a proper meal should boost energy levels and decrease your appetite for four hours. As part of the cardiometabolic food plan, individuals need to monitor their energy levels after each meal to determine whether the meal was sufficient to sustain optimal amounts of energy. If a meal is well-balanced, it will result in a clear-headed mindset and a satisfied feeling.

When a meal is inadequate, it will lead to shakiness and a foggy mindset. If this is the case, the food plan will need to be adjusted. Once you establish a balance between food and energy levels, you should commit to scheduled eating times. By doing this, you will be able to limit variables and establish a control level to make adjustments to the cardiometabolic food plan.

  • Developing a Diet High in Fiber and Low in Sugars. There is no doubt that processed foods are unhealthy, as they lack many of the vital nutrients that our bodies need to function properly, including fiber. For this reason, the cardiometabolic plan includes foods that are high in fiber.

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in plant-based foods that is indigestible, and therefore, it makes us feel full without consuming too many calories. In addition, fiber helps maintain stable blood sugar levels and traps unwanted toxins that can be harmful to your body. We also know that fiber plays an incredibly important role in our microbiome (neighborhood of the gut).  These benefits make it necessary to eat foods high in fiber to prevent cardiometabolic conditions.

  • Balancing Quality Dietary Fats. Dietary fats have been blamed for increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, leading to a boom in fat-free foods. The problem with fat-free foods is that they use sugar to replace the fat content, which increases blood sugar levels. As we touched upon already, when blood sugar levels get too high, they harm blood vessels and blood cells. And while too much fat is unhealthy, especially saturated fat, small amounts are acceptable. The cardiometabolic food plan allows for this by adding butter and coconut oil into the dietary plan.

Integrating Phytonutrients.

At first glance, the elements of the cardiometabolic food plan seem as though they would severely limit your meal options. However, numerous resources are dedicated to providing help for individuals during their journey to cardiovascular and metabolic health. These resources are very useful in discovering heart-healthy recipes and tips on integrating phytonutrients into your meals. Phytonutrients are naturally-occurring nutrients found in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, teas, and whole-grain products, and they are beneficial in working with other nutrients to promote good health.

Is the Cardiometabolic Diet Right for Me.

The cardiometabolic food plan is specifically tailored for individuals that have risk factors associated with cardiometabolic diseases, and this includes:

  • Those with risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) (e.g., high blood pressure, high cholesterol)
  • Those with risk factors for dysfunctional metabolic conditions such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes (T2D), or both.
  • Those with CVD
  • Those with metabolic syndrome (e.g., high blood sugar, increased belly fat)
  • Those with T2D

Which Foods Should Be Excluded from the Food Plan.

The cardiometabolic food plan focuses on lowering glycemic impact, targeting calories, eating balanced meals high in fiber - not sugar, lowering inflammation, and monitoring the types of dietary fat intake. Within this plan, certain foods should be avoided due to their tendency to increase blood pressure levels, and they include:

  • Sodium
  • Processed foods
  • Fast foods
  • Soft drinks
  • Added sweeteners
  • Caffeinated beverages
  • Alcohol

During establishing your cardiometabolic food plan, a qualified health care provider will provide a list of foods that you should reduce or eliminate from your diet. This will depend on different factors, such as your risk factors for cardiometabolic conditions and preexisting health conditions.

Living a Healthier Life.

Cardiometabolic diseases are causing death rates worldwide to reach alarming levels. However, this doesn't have to be the case. By practicing healthy eating habits, such as those incorporated in the cardiometabolic food plan, you will drastically reduce the chances of succumbing to cardiovascular diseases.

The cardiometabolic food plan is a structured dietary plan that helps reduce or even eliminate most cardiometabolic conditions. And when it is coupled with other lifestyle changes, such as exercising regularly, it is extremely effective. If you already suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or the beginning stages of diabetes, the cardiometabolic food plan could be your key to living a healthier life.