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Mediterranean diet, vegetables and nuts come out top for heart health

April 5, 2009

A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins C and E, and folate is the only dietary pattern associated with lower risk of heart disease, says a review.

According to the findings, modest relationships were found supporting omega-3 fatty acids, folate, whole grains, alcohol, fruits, fiber, dietary vitamins E and C and beta carotene for reductions in the risk of heart disease (1).

The review, pooling data from 146 prospective cohort studies and 43 randomized controlled trials published between 1950 and 2007, supports the Mediterranean diet pattern, rich in cereals, wine, fruits, nuts, legumes and whole grains, fish and olive oil, and low in dairy, meat, junk food and fat. The dietary pattern has been linked to longer life, less heart disease, and protection against some cancers.

Although investigations of dietary components may help to shed light on mechanisms behind the benefits of dietary patterns, it is unlikely that modifying the intake of a few nutrients or foods would substantially influence coronary outcomes, the researchers commented. They support the strategy of investigating dietary patterns in cohort studies and randomized controlled trials for common and complex chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease.

References

  1. Mente A. et al. A Systematic Review of the Evidence Supporting a Causal Link Between Dietary Factors and Coronary Heart Disease. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2009; 169(7):659–669.