Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New Heart Disease Research for American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month.  Here are a few new nutritional studies relating to heart disease.

Processed Foods

The EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) study recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine demonstrate that changes in diet could lower the risk of a heart attack by 81% through inflammation reduction and lowering blood pressure. There are four dietary factors the study highlights in causing heart disease:

1.  Refined carbohydrates, grains and sugar
2.  Excess Omega-6 vegetable oils
3.  Omega-3 fat deficiency
4.  Oxidative stress

Because eating processed foods packed with sugar, refined carbohydrates and hydrogenated fats lead to a continual state of inflammation throughout our body, eliminating (or drastically reducing) processed foods can have a positive impact on heart health.

Olive Oil and Leafy Greens

Dr. Domenico Palli from the Cancer Research and Prevention Institute in Florence and his colleagues discovered that women who eat at least one serving of leafy greens a day are 46 percent less likely to develop heart disease than women who eat less. And those who consume at least three tablespoons of olive oil a day earn roughly the same benefit.

Tomatoes
 

Of course, populations that consume diets high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are known to have a lower risk of heart disease. 

Research published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research explains the importance of including tomatoes to prevent heart disease. It explains that tomatos "enhance fatty acid oxidation while regulating the release of metabolized fats from the liver. By directly influencing blood lipids already in circulation as well as during hepatic development, 9-oxo-ODA from tomatoes can halt vascular disease in its tracks."


Diet Soda

Diet soda drinkers have an increased risk of having a heart attack and stroke than those who do not drink any soda, Agence France-Presse reported.

A study looking at 2,564 people in New York City found that those who drank diet soda every day had a 61 percent higher risk of “vascular events” than those who did not drink any soda at all.

Sleep

Getting too little or too much sleep can increase the risk of having a heart attack or stroke, according to research published in the European Heart Journal.

"Having too little sleep, typically defined as fewer than five-to-six hours sleep a night and sleep that is interrupted, was associated with a 48% increased risk of developing or dying from heart disease as well as a 15% increased risk of developing or dying from a stroke. On the other hand, sleeping too long – more than eight to nine hours per night – was associated with a 38% increased risk of developing heart disease, a 65% increased risk of having a stroke, and a 41% increased risk of developing diseased blood vessels."  (http://www.insidermedicine.ca/)

Veganism

A recent paper from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China looked at several factors in plant-based diets that affect heart disease. The paper stated that vegans have a “generally low risk of cardiovascular disease" as long as vitamin B12 and omega 3 fat intakes are adequate. 

Research shows that those who shun all animal products are likely to have lower blood cholesterol levels and less hypertension. Vegan diets are also higher in phytochemicals and nutrients that may reduce heart disease risk.

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