Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are a class of serious illnesses involving the heart and blood vessels and include conditions like blood clots, coronary artery disease (CAD), heart attack, and heart failure. According to a study published in the journal Circulation in 2019, India carries a heavy burden of CVDs with an estimated 54.5 million people suffering from it.
The study also mentions that CVDs tend to affect patients in their most productive years and often have catastrophic social and economic consequences apart from resulting in lifelong risks of negative health outcomes. It is, therefore, for the benefit of all that the methods to prevent CVDs are promoted and adopted by as much of the population as possible.
Inflammation and risk of CVDs
A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology recommends that adopting an anti-inflammatory diet can help prevent the risk of CVDs. The study starts out by stating that inflammation plays a vital role in the development of CVDs, and diet is one of the most important methods of modulating inflammation. However, not much research has been done previously to check if dietary patterns with higher inflammatory potential are associated with long-term or future CVD risks.
Keeping this in mind, this study set out to examine if pro-inflammatory diets are indeed associated with increased CVD risks. To do this, the researchers collected data from 74,578 women from the Nurses’ Health Study (1984-2016), 91,656 women from the NHSII (1991-2015), and 43,911 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2016). All 210,145 participants were both CVD- and cancer-free at the start of the study and their diets were assessed via food frequency questionnaires once every four years.
The inflammatory potential of your diet matters
The inflammatory potential of the participants’ diet was evaluated through a food-based empirical dietary inflammatory pattern (EDIP) score that was based on the levels of three systemic inflammatory biomarkers. During an almost 32-year follow-up, the researchers found that 15,837 of the participants had developed CVDs, including 9,794 CAD cases and 6,174 strokes.
The study also conclusively proved that a higher dietary inflammatory potential — as indicated by higher EDIP scores — was associated with an increased risk of CVDs, CAD, and stroke. They found that participants who consumed more sugar, sugary beverages, refined grains, processed foods or meats and red meat had higher levels of EDIP scores. These participants also had higher levels of pro-inflammatory biomarkers, lower levels of adiponectin (a protein hormone that helps break down fatty acids and regulates blood glucose levels) and unfavourable lipid profiles.
The researchers concluded that dietary patterns that have a low pro-inflammatory potential can reduce CVD risk in the long-term. Adopting a diet that includes plenty of fibre and protein, is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and limits carbohydrates, sugar, processed and refined foods and red meat, is an effective risk-prevention strategy. The researchers also highlight that long-term adherence to anti-inflammatory diets like the Mediterranean diet can also significantly reduce the risk of CVDs.
For more information, read our article on Heart disease.
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