October 20, 2008
High Fruit And Vegetable Diet Cuts Heart Risk 30%

The news is the same all around the world: Eat a lot more fruits and vegetables.

DALLAS, Oct. 21, 2008 — The typical Western diet — fried foods, salty snacks and meat — accounts for about 30 percent of heart attack risk across the world, according to a study of dietary patterns in 52 countries reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers identified three dietary patterns in the world:
• Oriental: higher intake of tofu, soy and other sauces;
• Prudent: higher intake of fruits and vegetables; and
• Western: higher intake of fried foods, salty snacks, eggs and meat.

The Prudent diet was associated with a lower heart attack risk than the Oriental, researchers said.

“The objective of this study was to understand the modifiable risk factors of heart attacks at a global level,” said Salim Yusuf, D.Phil., the study’s senior author.

Previous studies have reached similar conclusions about the Prudent and Western diet in the United States and Europe. This study broadens those findings and identifies a unique dietary pattern that researchers labeled “Oriental” (because of a higher content of food items typical of an Oriental diet.) The dietary pattern recommended by the American Heart Association is similar to the Prudent diet described in this study.

Eat more fruits and vegetables. Never mind that in other posts I delve into the concentrations of flavanols or pectin or other antioxidants in different fruits and vegetables. The main thing is to get more fruits and vegetables and less of everything else (with the possible exception of nuts and high omega 3 fish).

After adjusting for known risk factors, researchers found:
• People who consumed the Prudent diet of more fruits and vegetables had a 30 percent lower risk of heart attack compared to people who ate little or no fruits and vegetables.
• People who consumed the Western diet had a 35 percent greater risk of having a heart attack compared to people who consumed little or no fried foods and meat.
• The Oriental pattern showed no relationship with heart attack risk.

Researchers said that while some components of the Oriental pattern may be protective, others such as the higher sodium content of soy sauces, may increase cardiovascular risk, neutralizing any relationship.

You know what you need to do. But can you manage to make yourself do it? Most people who know better still do not act on the information. French fries and burgers just taste too good because your ancestors generally died of calorie malnutrition and its complications before getting a chance to die of a heart attack. So appetite-regulating genes were selected by natural selection to make us go for fats and meats and sweets.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 October 20 11:06 PM  Aging Diet Heart Studies

L. said at October 21, 2008 12:59 AM:

But watch out for the Omega-6 in those nuts etc. : potential Alzheimer's factor! (Did I read that here or was it in yesterday's paper??)

Dennis Mangan said at October 21, 2008 6:33 AM:

IMO this study doesn't show nearly what its authors think it does. The characteristics of the Western diet don't end with "fried foods and meat", but include white flour and sugar and HFCS. Those who eat more fruits and vegetables may be substituting them for those 3 things; thus nothing inherent in vegetables is necessarily healthy. Also, those who eat fruits and vegetables are likelier to be healthier in the first place, plus smarter and richer and higher SES. Heretical, I know, but correlation doesn't mean causation, and to my mind causation hasn't been shown in the relation between fruit and vegetable consumption and health. You need a prospective study for that.

Faruq Arshad said at October 21, 2008 11:42 AM:

If they are able to genetically engineer fruit to taste like burgers,or even sandwiches,then I'll increase my fruit intake. Even though I have a high risk of heart disease,fresh fruit is too much of a hastle to deal with compared to other food,

David Govett said at October 21, 2008 9:27 PM:

I live in California, among the fruits and vegetables. Can't say it's done them any good.

Bob Badour said at October 22, 2008 10:32 AM:

What hasn't done them any good? Getting high?

Ahsan Ayaz said at January 18, 2009 12:47 PM:

What specifically is the best fruit and best vegitable for the heart? pls be more precise on that. It will be helpful to many in the world if you'll reply.

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