- A diet high in salt and trans fats has caused 400,000 deaths from heart and blood vessel diseases in 2015.
- Nearly half of cardiovascular disease deaths in the United States can be prevented by improving diet.
- Whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish, lean meat, fruits, vegetables are low in salt, trans fat and protects the heart.
The food we eat everyday can make or break our health. A recent analysis presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention / Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2017 Scientific Sessions points out that eating a diet which lacks in healthy foods was linked to more than 400,000 deaths from heart and blood vessel diseases in 2015.
Eating more heart healthy foods, and less foods with high amounts of salt and trans fats, could save tens of thousands of lives in the United States each year, researchers said.
‘Deaths from cardiovascular disease may be due to the food we eat everyday. Low intake of nuts, vegetables, whole grains and fruits and a high intake of foods that have salt and trans-fat contribute to heart disease.’
Impact of Diet in Heart Disease
The new analysis was designed to pinpoint how diet impacts heart and blood vessel disease; it relied on 1990-2012 data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, food availability data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as well as other sources.
"Our results show that nearly half of cardiovascular disease deaths in the United States can be prevented by improving diet."
Poor dietary choices - a lack of healthier foods and more of unhealthy foods played a role in the deaths of an estimated 222,100 men and 193,400 women in 2015. Some of the leading dietary risk factors that were linked to cardiovascular disease deaths:
- Low intake of nuts and seeds (11.6 percent)
- Low intake of vegetables (11.5 percent)
- Low intake of whole grains (10.4 percent)
- Excess salt (9 percent)
"Low intake of healthy foods such as nuts, vegetables, whole grains and fruits combined with higher intake of unhealthy dietary components, such as salt and trans-fat, is a major contributor to deaths from cardiovascular disease in the United States," said Ashkan Afshin, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc., Sc.D., lead study author.
Heart - Healthy foods
- Fats in the form of butter, lard, fast food and fried snacks must be swapped with healthy ones like vegetable oils, nuts.
- Include a variety of whole grains to add on to the daily fiber intake. Adequate amount of fiber in the diet
- Eat 5 to 6 servings of fruits and vegetables everyday. They contain numerous vitamins and minerals along with antioxidants which help in fighting free radicals that often cause heart diseases and cancer.
- Walnuts, flax seeds, flax seed oil, chia seeds, canola oil and soybean contain fair amounts of omega-3 fats apart from fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of PUFA and are known to reduce triglycerides, a fat found in the blood. They also reduce the risk of irregular heartbeat and slow down the formation of plaque.
The team's systematic approach in quantifying how diet can contribute heart disease deaths, and in defining the healthiest diet to prevent it, are the research's key strengths, Afshin said.
The American Heart Association emphasizes the importance of eating a healthy dietary pattern that is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry and limited in fatty or processed red meat. The association also suggests limiting sugary soft drinks, salt (sodium), saturated and trans fats.
- Ashkan Afshin et al., Unhealthy diets linked to more than 400,000 cardiovascular deaths, American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention / Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2017.