Heart Disease and Diet

heart disease and dietCardiovascular disease is the number 1 cause of death in the United States, Europe and much of the developed world with heart disease being the most common form of cardiovascular disease. Heart disease is caused when the blood vessels that lead to the heart become narrow because they get clogged with something called plaque. Following a healthy diet has been shown to help lower the risk of developing heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.

The Foods That Help

Researchers at Harvard University wanted to determine the kinds of food that helped lower the risk for heart disease the most. To study this they searched a large medical database to get information from other studies that had been done to see if curtain foods had an effect on heart disease risk. After reviewing 147 other studies they found that people who ate more unsaturated fats like omega-3 fatty acids were less likely to have heart disease.

fish meal

Sources of omega-3 fatty acids came from fish, fish oil supplements and plant foods. Researchers also found that high fruit and vegetable consumption lowered the risk for cardiovascular disease as did nuts and whole grains. Diets low in refined grains like white bread or white rice were also found to lower the risk for heart disease.

Nuts Can Lower Your Risk

As the last study found, omega-3 fatty acids and other unsaturated fats are very helpful in lowering heart disease risk. There are many plant foods that are high in unsaturated fats and nuts are one such food. Nuts have been shown to have a number of healthy effects on the body and the prevention of heart disease may be one of them.

Researchers at Loma Linda University did a study that involved 31,208 people to see if there was a connection between how many nuts people ate and their risk for heart disease.

bowl of nuts

  • The diets of the test subjects were analyzed and the researchers saw that people who ate nuts more than 4 times per week were about 48% less likely to develop heart disease than people who didn’t eat nuts.
  • They also found that eating whole grain bread instead of white bread caused a reduction in the risk for heart disease.

This study suggests that eating nuts and whole grains is good for your heart and can lower the risk of heart disease.

Cholesterol in Food

A lot of people believe that eating foods high in cholesterol and saturated fats is bad for your cardiovascular system but this is an issue that scientists haven’t really settled. Eggs are high in cholesterol and saturated fats which is why researchers use them to study the effects that dietary cholesterol and saturated fats have on the body.

meal with eggs

A study done at Harvard University was designed to see if eating eggs caused an increase in cardiovascular disease risk. This study involved 37,851 men between the ages of 40 and 75 years and 80,082 women between the ages of 34 and 59 years which makes this a very large study.

These people were tracked for several years and over the course of 9 years 866 men developed heart disease and over the course of 14 years 939 women developed heart disease.

Using the information they collected researchers were able to determine how much of an effect eating eggs had on the risk for developing heart disease.

  • They found that regardless of whether or not people ate 1, 2, 4, 5 or 6 eggs per week there didn’t seem to be a connection between eating eggs and heart disease risk.
  • They did however find that people with diabetes were more likely to develop heart disease from eating higher amounts of egg.

A lot of the time doctors tell patients to avoid eating eggs to lower their risk for cardiovascular disease but this study is one of many that have shown that for healthy people eating eggs doesn’t seem to increase heart disease risk.

Lowering your risk for heart disease may be as simple as making the proper changes to your diet.

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