Avoiding inflammatory foods can reduce heart disease and the risk of stroke

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Diets rich in red and processed meat, refined grains and sugary drinks, which have been associated with increased inflammation in the body, may increase the subsequent risk of heart disease and stroke compared to diets containing anti-inflammatory foods, according to a study published a few days ago in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. A separate JACC study assessed the positive effects of eating nuts, an anti-inflammatory food, on lowering inflammation and the risk of heart disease.

Chronic inflammation has been shown to play an important role in the development of heart disease and stroke. Certain inflammatory biomarkers, such as interleukins, chemokines, and adhesion molecules, have been associated with early and late stages of atherosclerosis. Previous studies have found that diet can influence inflammation levels, but few healthy dietary patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet (rich in olive oil, nuts, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, seafood and slightly poorer in dairy and meat). red / processed), showed lower concentrations of inflammatory biomarkers and a lower risk of heart disease.

For this study, the researchers looked at men and women from Nurses Health Studies I and II since 1986 and included up to 32 years of follow-up. After excluding participants with missing information about diet or heart disease, stroke or cancer previously diagnosed, over 210,000 participants were included in the analysis. Participants completed a survey every four years to determine food intake.

“Using an empirically developed, food-based food index to assess the levels of inflammation associated with food intake, we found that dietary patterns with higher inflammatory potential were associated with an increased rate of cardiovascular disease,” said Jun Li , MD, PhD, lead author of the study and researcher in the nutrition department at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. Our study is among the first to link a food-based inflammatory index to foods with a long-term risk of cardiovascular disease.

The food-based proinflammatory dietary index is based on 18 predefined food groups that together have the strongest associations with an increase in inflammatory biomarkers. After controlling for other risk factors, such as BMI, physical activity, a family history of heart disease, and multivitamin use, participants who consumed proinflammatory diets had a 46% higher risk of heart disease and a 28% increased risk of heart disease. higher stroke compared to those who consume anti-inflammatory diets.

Researchers have suggested eating foods with higher levels of antioxidants and fiber to fight inflammation: green leafy vegetables (cabbage, spinach, cabbage, arugula), yellow vegetables (pumpkin, yellow peppers, beans, carrots), whole grains, coffee, tea and wine. The researchers also suggested limiting the consumption of refined sugars and grains, fried foods, soft drinks and restricting processed or red meat and organs. These foods are among the main factors contributing to the proinflammatory dietary index.

“A better understanding of the health protection offered by different foods and dietary patterns, mainly their anti-inflammatory properties, should be the basis for designing healthier dietary patterns to protect against heart disease,” said Ramon Estruch, MD, PhD, senior consultant in the internal medicine department at the Barcelona Hospital Clinic and author of an accompanying editorial comment: “When choosing foods in our diet, we should really be careful about their inflammatory or anti-inflammatory potential!”

Incorporating nuts into the diet decreases inflammation

In another study, researchers evaluated how incorporating nuts into an individual’s regular diet would improve inflammatory biomarkers. Previous studies have found that regular consumption of nuts is associated with a lower risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol. However, there has been limited research linking walnut consumption to lower inflammation in the body. A total of 634 participants received either a nut-free diet or a regularly incorporated nut diet (approximately 30-60 grams per day). After a two-year follow-up period, those who received the walnut diet showed significantly reduced levels of inflammation in the body in 6 of the 10 inflammatory biomarkers tested.

“The long-term anti-inflammatory effect of walnut consumption demonstrated in this study offers a new perspective on the benefit of walnut consumption on the risk of heart disease, beyond that of lowering cholesterol,” said Dr. Montserrant Cofán, lead author and researcher at the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute in Barcelona, ​​Spain.

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