This Morning: Dr Chris discusses heart disease
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Around 47,000 people under the age of 75 in the UK die from heart and circulatory diseases each year. According to the British Heart Foundation, heart and circulatory diseases cause a quarter of all deaths in the UK.
Hypertension, myocardial infarction, atherosclerosis, arrhythmias and valvular heart disease, coagulopathies and stroke are collectively known as cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).
“You are what you eat” is a common expression.
This quote epitomizes the importance of consuming a balanced healthy diet to ensure overall well-being.
With this in mind, what is the most recommended diet for a healthy heart?
According to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, a whole-grain diet has been found to be one of the best ways to eat to reduce your risk of a heart attack.
Research found a link between higher whole grain consumption with a lowered increase in certain heart disease risk factors.
Experts believe the link lies in refining which removes fibre and its heart-healthy nutrients.
The study hypothesised that by eating whole grains a person can experience lowered blood pressure, waist circumference and heart-healthy properties.
It has been almost 50 years since Ancel Keys compared the rates of heart disease and the diets in seven countries (ie, Greece, Italy, Yugoslavia, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands and the United States).
Keys is an American physiologist who studied the influence of diet on health.
His work was a scientific cornerstone that showed the health advantages of the Mediterranean diet, which consists of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and olive oil.
On the basis of his studies, Keys proposed that the plant-based diet of the people of the Mediterranean region offered protection against heart disease.
One study echoed these findings and was performed with more than 2,000 elderly men and women (70 to 90 years of age) in 11 European countries.
The study assessed the effects of a Mediterranean-type diet and several lifestyle factors on the 10-year mortality from all causes, including CVDs and cancer.
Besides the diet, other lifestyle factors examined were physical activity (approximately 30 min exercise per day), moderate alcohol use and whether the subjects smoked.
Adhering to the Mediterranean diet was associated with a 23 percent lower risk of death from all causes.
Those who consumed moderate amounts of alcohol had a 22 percent lower mortality risk, whereas being physically active resulted in a 37 percent decreased mortality risk.
A diet that emphasises the intake of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are ideal for reducing the risk of a heart attack.
To keep the scales in favour of the healthy diet, you must also limit the number of unhealthy foods you eat.
This is why it is better to cut down on sweets, red meats, and sugar-sweetened beverages.
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