In two new studies from the University of Minnesota, researchers found eating more nutritious, plant-based foods is heart-healthy at any age.
They analyzed different measures of healthy plant food consumption and found that both young adults and older women had fewer heart attacks and were less likely to develop the cardiovascular disease when they ate more healthy plant foods.
In the study, the team examined diet and the occurrence of heart disease in 4,946 adults.
Participants were 18- to 30-years-old at the time of enrollment (1985-1986) and were free of cardiovascular disease at that time.
After detailed diet history interviews, the quality of the participants’ diets was scored based on the A Priori Diet Quality Score (APDQS) composed of 46 food groups at years 0, 7, and 20 of the study.
The food groups were classified into beneficial foods (such as fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains); adverse foods (such as fried potatoes, high-fat red meat, salty snacks, pastries, and soft drinks); and neutral foods (such as potatoes, refined grains, lean meats, and shellfish) based on their known association with cardiovascular disease.
Participants who received higher scores ate a variety of beneficial foods, while people who had lower scores ate more adverse foods. Overall, higher values correspond to a nutritionally rich, plant-centered diet.
The team says as opposed to existing diet quality scores that are usually based on small numbers of food groups, APDQS is explicit in capturing the overall quality of diet using 46 individual food groups, describing the whole diet that the general population commonly consumes.
The scoring is very comprehensive, and it has many similarities with diets like the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Healthy Eating Index (from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service), the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and the Mediterranean diet.
The American Heart Association Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations suggest an overall healthy dietary pattern that emphasizes a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes and non-tropical vegetable oils.
It also advises limited consumption of saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, red meat, sweets, and sugary drinks.
If you care about heart disease, please read studies about fat in milk and cheese linked to lower risk of heart disease, and her pain seemed muscular. It was actually a heart attack.
For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about diets that helped women with diabetes cut heart attack, stroke risk, and results showing this combo therapy can cut risk of heart attack and stroke by half.
The study is published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. One author of the study is Yuni Choi, Ph.D.
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