Unhealthy Diets and Cardiovascular Deaths

Study: Connecting Unhealthy Diets and Cardiovascular Deaths

This month is National Nutrition Month. Last month was American Heart Month. Today’s post brings the two together.

A new study from the American Heart Association reports that “eating a diet lacking in healthy foods and/or high in unhealthy foods was linked to more than 400,000 deaths from heart and blood vessel diseases in 2015, according to an analysis presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention / Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2017 Scientific Sessions.”

“Eating more heart healthy foods, and less foods with high amounts of salt and trans fats, could save tens of thousands of lives in the United States each year, researchers said.”

Said Ashkan Afshin, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc., Sc.D., lead study author and acting assistant professor of global health at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle: “Low intake of healthy foods such as nuts, vegetables, whole grains and fruits combined with higher intake of unhealthy dietary components, such as salt and trans-fat, is a major contributor to deaths from cardiovascular disease in the United States.”

The New York Times adds: “The results suggest that an integrated approach to healthy eating is possible, said Linda Van Horn, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association and a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University, who was not involved in the study.”

Van Horn is quoted in the NYT: “Typically, the higher the diet is in natural — not processed — plant-based foods, the lower the sodium intake is. So by eating more of the favored foods, the detrimental intakes of sodium, as well as trans-fat and saturated fat and sugar, are lower.”

According to the AHA, “the new analysis was designed to pinpoint how diet impacts heart and blood vessel disease; it relied on 1990-2012 data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, food availability data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as well as other sources.”