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Cardiovascular Disease Overview

The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.

  • Low-Salt Diet

    According to the 2012 American Heart Association Presidential Advisory, “Sodium, Blood Pressure, and Cardiovascular Disease,” the evidence supporting recommendations for reduced sodium intake in the general population remains robust and persuasive, and is important for improving the public’s health.17
    Low-Salt Diet
    ×
    Recent reports of selected studies have stirred controversy and led to calls to abandon sodium intake recommendations. However, an expert panel convened by the American Heart Association (AHA) concluded these recommendations remain important. The panel’s detailed review of these selected studies considered them in the context of other existing research. The conclusion: There is no good rationale to warrant abandoning or reversing sodium-related dietary recommendations, and the AHA still strongly supports implementation of health promotion goals, including the recommendation to reduce dietary sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg per day, to improve the health of all Americans.18 Further, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans further clarifies which groups of people most need to focus on reducing sodium intake, noting that Americans aged two and up need to reduce sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day. People 51 and older, and those of any age who are African American, or who have high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease should aim lower for sodium—getting no more than 1,500 mg per day. Before you think, “that doesn’t apply to me,” consider that this covers nearly half the US population, and the majority of adults!19
  • Diet

    According to heart disease guidelines, addressing obesity and being overweight are important for helping people reduce the risk of heart disease, and better manage the condition if they already have it. Even modest weight loss of just 3%–5% of baseline body weight is likely to result in meaningful improvements in cardiovascular disease risk factors.
    Diet
    ×
    More than 78 million adults in the United States were obese in 2009 and 2010, and obesity raises the risk of heart disease, death due to heart disease, and all other causes of death as well (all-cause mortality). Fortunately, even a small amount of weight loss can bring big rewards. Losing just 3%–5% of baseline body weight—that’s only 7.5 to 12.5 pounds for a person currently weighing 250 pounds—is likely to result in meaningful improvements in cardiovascular disease risk factors, including improvements in triglycerides (fat in the blood) and blood sugar levels. If you’re uncertain how to get started with a modest weight reduction plan, ask your doctor for a referral to a nutrition professional for counseling; nutritional counseling receives an “A” grade for effectiveness from the American Heart Association.20
  • Eating Healthy

    Plant-based diets that are based on eating lots of vegetables, fruits, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), nuts and seeds, whole grains, and small amounts of fish and other lean proteins, are linked with a lower risk of heart disease. In people who already have atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries), a healthy diet is important for maintaining health, and for reducing the risk of more serious complications and progression of disease.
    Eating Healthy
    ×
    The 2013 American Heart Association (AHA)/American College of Cardiology (ACC) guidelines give a grade of “A”—indicating strong evidence to support the recommendation—to following a dietary pattern that emphasizes eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains; includes low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, nontropical vegetable oils, and nuts; and limits intake of sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages, and red meats. An "A" grade is also given to following a dietary pattern that limits saturated fat to less than 6% of total calories, or no more than about 13 grams of saturated fat per day for a 2,000 calorie diet, and to reducing the amount of calories coming from the trans (hydrogenated) fats found in proccessed and “junk” foods.21

References

1. Kinosian B, Glick H, Garland G. Cholesterol and coronary heart disease: predicting risks by levels and ratios. Ann Intern Med 1994;121:641-7.

2. Kwiterovich PO Jr. The antiatherogenic role of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Am J Cardiol 1998;82:Q13-21 [review].

3. High Blood Cholesterol: What You Need to Know. National Institutes of Health: National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Available from URL: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/resources/heart/heart-cholesterol-hbc-what-html.

4. Harchaoui KE, Visser ME, Kastelein JJ, Stroes ES, Dallinga-Thie GM. Triglycerides and cardiovascular risk. Curr Cardiol Rev. 2009;5(3):216-22.

5. Ntaios G, Savopoulos C, Grekas D, Hatzitolios A. The controversial role of B-vitamins in cardiovascular risk: An update. Arch Cardiovasc Dis. 2009;102(12):847-54.

6. Seman LJ, McNamara JR, Schaefer EJ. Lipoprotein(a), homocysteine, and remnantlike particles: emerging risk factors. Curr Opin Cardiol 1999;14:186-91.

7. Kannel WB. Office assessment of coronary candidates and risk factor insights from the Framingham study. J Hypertens Suppl 1991;9:S13-9.

8. Megnien JL, Denarie N, Cocaul M, et al. Predictive value of waist-to-hip ratio on cardiovascular risk events. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 1999;23:90-7.

9. Lehtonen HM, Suomela JP, Tahvonen R, et al. Different berries and berry fractions have various but slightly positive effects on the associated variables of metabolic diseases on overweight and obese women. Eur J ClinNutr 2011;65:394-401.

10. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database citation: Zhang MS, et al. Treatment of ischemic heart diseases with flavonoids of Hippophaerhamnoides. Chinese J Cardiol 1987;15:97-9.Pubmed citation: Zhang MS. A control trial of flavonoids of Hippophaerhamnoides L. in treating ischemic heart disease. ZhonghuaXinXue Guan Bing ZaZhi 1987;15:97-9 [in Chinese].

11. Larmo P, Alin J, Salminen E, et al. Effects of sea buckthorn berries on infections and inflammation: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Eur J ClinNutr 2008;62:1123-30.

12. Suomela JP, Ahotupa M, Yang B, et al. Absorption of flavonols derived from sea buckthorn (Hippophaërhamnoides L.) and their effect on emerging risk factors for cardiovascular disease in humans. J Agric Food Chem 2006;54:7364-9.

13. Eccleston C, Baoru Y, Tahvonen R et al. Effects of an antioxidant-rich juice (sea buckthorn) on risk factors for coronary heart disease in humans. JNutrBiochem 2002;13:346-354.

14. Girgih A, Udenigwe C, Aluko R. Reverse-phase HPLC separation of hemp seed (Cannabis sativa L.) protein hydrolysate produced peptide fractions with enhanced antioxidant capacity. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 2013;68:39-46. doi: 10.1007/s11130-013-0340-6.

15. Lee M, Park S, Han J, et al. The effects of hempseed meal intake and linoleic acid on Drosophila models of neurodegenerative diseases and hypercholesterolemia. Mol Cells 2011;31:337-42. doi: 10.1007/s10059-011-0042-6. Epub 2011 Feb 10.

16. Rigamonti E, Parolini C, Marchesi M, et al. Hypolipidemic effect of dietary pea proteins: Impact on genes regulating hepatic lipid metabolism. Mol Nutr Food Res 2010;54 Suppl 1:S24-30. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.200900251.

17. Whelton PK, Appel LJ, Sacco RL, Anderson, CAM, Antman EM, Campbell N, Dunbar SB, et al. Sodium, Blood Pressure, and Cardiovascular Disease. Circulation. 2012;126:2880-89.

18. Whelton PK, Appel LJ, Sacco RL, Anderson, CAM, Antman EM, Campbell N, Dunbar SB, et al. Sodium, Blood Pressure, and Cardiovascular Disease. Circulation. 2012;126:2880-89.

19. Get the Facts: Sodium and the Dietary Guidelines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available from URL: http://www.cdc.gov/salt/pdfs/sodium_dietary_guidelines.pdf.

20. Jensen MD, Ryan DH, Apovian CM, Ard JD, Comuzzie AG, Donato KA, Hu FB, et al. 2013 AHA/ACC/TOS Guideline for the Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and The Obesity Society. Circulation. 2014;129:S102-S138.

21. Eckel RH, Jakicic JM, Ard JD, de Jesus JM, Miller NH, Hubbard VS, Lee I-M, et al. 2013 AHA/ACC Guideline on Lifestyle Management to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk. A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation. 2014;129 S76-S99.

22. Freund KM, Belanger AJ, D'Agostino RB, Kannel WB. The health risks of smoking. The Framingham Study: 34 years of follow-up. Ann Epidemiol 1993;3:417-24.

23. Law MR, Morris JK, Wald NJ. Environmental tobacco smoke exposure and ischaemic heart disease: an evaluation of the evidence. BMJ 1997;315:973-80.

24. Lee CD, Blair SN, Jackson AS. Cardiorespiratory fitness, body composition, and all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality in men. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69:373-80.

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2019.