Consuming unhealthy foods is linked to increase in cardiovascular disease: Study

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The study shows that people who do not consume whole-fat dairy products, seafood, legumes, nuts, fruits, and vegetables have a higher risk of heart diseases.

Researchers discovered that people who do not consume enough of six essential nutrients have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Consuming whole-fat dairy products, seafood, legumes, nuts, fruits, and vegetables lowers the risk of CVD, such as heart attacks and strokes. The study also discovered that there are other strategies to maintain a healthy diet, such as consuming unprocessed meats or entire grains in moderation.

Previous and related research has focused on Western nations and diets that incorporate unhealthy, highly processed foods alongside nutrient-dense foods. This global study focused on common healthy eating habits.

The World Health Organization estimates nearly 18 million people died from CVD in 2019, representing 32 per cent of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 85 per cent were due to heart attacks and strokes. PHRI researchers and their global collaborators analyzed data from 245,000 people in 80 countries from multiple studies. The results were published in the European Heart Journal on July 6.Researchers derived a diet score from PHRI’s ongoing, large-scale global Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiological (PURE) study, then replicated that in five independent studies to measure health outcomes in different world regions and in people with and without prior CVD.

“Previous diet scores – including the EAT-Lancet Planetary Diet and the Mediterranean Diet tested the relationship of diet to CVD and death mainly in Western countries. The PURE Healthy Diet Score included a good representation of high, middle, and low-income countries,” said Salim Yusuf, senior author and principal investigator of PURE.As well as being truly global, the PURE Healthy Diet Score focused on exclusively protective, or natural, foods.”We were unique in that focus. The other diet scores combined foods considered to be harmful – such as processed and ultra-processed foods – with foods and nutrients believed to be protective of one’s health,” said first author Andrew Mente, PHRI scientist and assistant professor at McMaster’s Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact.”There is a recent increased focus on higher consumption of protective foods for disease prevention. Outside of larger amounts of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, the researchers showed that moderation is key in the consumption of natural foods,” he said.

“Moderate amounts of fish and whole-fat dairy are associated with a lower risk of CVD and mortality. The same health outcomes can be achieved with moderate consumption of grains and meats – as long as they are unrefined whole grains and unprocessed meats.”The PURE Healthy Diet Score recommends an average daily intake of: Fruits at two to three servings; vegetables at two to three servings; nuts at one serving; and dairy at two servings. The score also includes three to four weekly servings of legumes and two to three weekly servings of fish. Possible substitutes included whole grains at one serving daily, and unprocessed red meat or poultry at one serving daily.


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