Unhealthy diets from a young age can lead to heart disease later in life – especially if your diet is full of inflammation-related foods like processed meats, red meats, sugary drinks, and processed oils.
Researchers at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health tracked more than 200,000 U.S. health professionals ages 24 to 40 for ages 24 to 32 to demonstrate the long-term risks of fatty and sugary foods. Every four years, the participants reported how often and how often they ate.
The researchers found that those who ate a diet high in inflammatory foods were 38% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease (CVD), including heart attack and stroke, than those who did reported healthier diets. The study was published in the November issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
How do “inflammatory” foods cause damage?
Processed foods play a huge role in inflammation. It is the processed foods that generally contain trans fats and saturated fats, both of which are known to promote inflammation in the body. In addition to the food categories already mentioned, processed cheese, smoked foods, processed wheat products, and sweetened chocolate are examples of inflammatory foods, Dana Weiner, a registered dietitian at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, Israel, told Medical Daily. Studies have shown that these foods can cause inflammation in the body.
Inflammation is the immune system’s defense against intruders and infections. Short periods of inflammation are said to help your body heal. However, long-term inflammation can damage blood vessels, cells, and tissues and lead to CVD and other chronic diseases. One study showed an important link between trans fats and a substance in the blood called CRP, which indicates inflammation in the body. Of those who ate the most trans fat, 73% had higher CRP levels than those who ate the least.
Diet is one facet of a heart-threatening lifestyle
Diet is only part of the problem. “[ People with unhealthy diets] It is often the same people who do not exercise and have poorly controlled blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes profiles, putting them all at risk for heart disease and stroke, ”said Dr. Anuj R. Shah, an interventional cardiologist and founder of Apex Heart and Vascular in New Jersey. Smoking and being overweight can also increase your risk of heart disease.
Once a person with heart disease adopts a healthy lifestyle, the positive changes in their health can be measured, said Dr. Shah told Medical Daily. “We’re seeing tremendous results on their heart tests showing a reduction in plaque levels,” as well as lower blood pressure and improved lipid or cholesterol levels.
Which foods fight inflammation?
The Mediterranean Diet includes anti-inflammatory and heart healthy foods, agreed Dr. Shah and Mrs. Weiner too. The diet revolves around:
- Whole fruits and vegetables
- full grain
- Healthy fats
- Moderate amounts of fish, poultry, beans, and eggs
- Moderate amounts of dairy products
“The sooner you start eating healthier, the more it helps,” said Ms. Weiner. “We encourage the entire population to eat a plant-based diet, which means less meat, less processed foods and more anti-inflammatory foods. Even if you already have heart disease, it’s never too late to change your eating habits and lifestyle with your nutritionist. “
Future research will allow providers to provide more personalized nutritional advice, Ms. Weiner said. “The new research field in nutrition takes into account other factors … like genetics, microbiome, and more. In the next ten years we will know more to give the best nutritional recipe. ”
Take them home
You really are what you eat. Eating fewer anti-inflammatory foods – and eating more anti-inflammatory foods – over time can help keep your heart healthy. If you want to learn how to lower your risk of heart disease, talk to your doctor. The American Heart Association website also provides information on the Mediterranean Diet and other tips on eating for a healthier heart.