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Western Diet Raises Global Heart Risk

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Tuesday, October 21, 2008 9:27 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Healthy Living, Diet and Nutrition, Heart Disease, INTERHEART Study


IMAGE SOURCE: © iStockPhoto / diet concept / author: Zocha_K

A newly released study of eating habits suggests opting for salads instead of fried and salty foods could help lessen the global incidence of heart attacks by as much as a third.

The INTERHEART study, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research is published in the Oct. 21 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

The Western diet, which typically includes foods high in fat, red meat and salt, accounted for nearly 30 percent of heart attack risk in all populations.

While the “Prudent” diet which is high in fruit and vegetables lowered heart attack risk by a third.

Researchers also reviewed an “Oriental” diet, high in tofu, soy and other sauces and found it didn’t seem to lower or raise the overall risk of heart attack.

For the study, researchers conducted a dietary risk survey among more than 16,000 participants in 52 countries. One-third of the participants, or 5,761, were interviewed after having a single heart attack; the other 10,646 participants had no known heart disease.

The study accounted for other risk factors including age, smoking, sex, physical activity, body mass index and geographical region in assessing overall heart attack risk.

People who followed a Western diet were 35 percent more likely to have a heart attack compared to those who consumed little to no fried foods and meat. It is a well known fact that the typical Western diet can cause heart disease. Diets high in salt can raise blood pressure and cause a host of other health conditions such as clogged arteries.

“Thirty percent of the risk of heart disease in a population can be linked to poor diet,” said Romania Iqbal, of McMaster University in Canada.

Earlier studies have drawn similar conclusions about the Prudent and Western diet in Europe and the United States, but those studies did not include the Oriental diet. While some aspects of the Oriental diet may not be heart healthy – such as high sodium found in soy sauce – these elements are likely canceled by their protective components.

“The study findings indicate that the same relationships between food and heart disease observed in Western countries are also present in other global regions,” said Salim Yusuf, study author and professor of medicine at McMaster University.

Another two-year study aimed at comparing three types of diet plans found that the low-carbohydrate Atkins diet plan and Mediterranean diet rich in fish and nuts created slightly greater weight loss results than a low-fat plan based on American Heart Association dietary guidelines. #

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