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Heart-Healthy Diet: New Studies

Several recent articles provide new data on which foods are associated with both your health and your longevity.

The current issue of JAMA (2017;317(9):912-924).contains a major statistical analysis of the association between diet quality and rates of death from the cardiometabolic diseases (heart disease, strokes and type II diabetes). This review of more than 700,000 deaths in 2012 from heart attacks, strokes and diabetes in the U.S. shows that almost half of the deaths were associated with poor dietary habits. The ten specific dietary factors that were found to be associated with cardiometabolic deaths were:
• low vegetables
• low fruits
• low whole grains
• low nuts and seeds
• low omega-3 fats from seafood
• low polyunsaturated fats (in place of saturated fats or carbohydrates)
• high salt intake
• high processed meats
• high sugar-sweetened beverages
• high red meats
This detailed analysis also provided breakdowns for each of the dietary factors by sex, age, race and education as well as trends (2012 compared with 2002 data).

If you read my recent report on Anti-Inflammatory and Pro-Inflammatory Foods, you will note that the foods listed in the JAMA report as those associated with cardiometabolic deaths are all on the list of foods that turn on your immunity to cause inflammation. The foods listed as healthful are those that turn down your immunity to limit inflammation. Anti-inflammatory foods include:
• fruits
• vegetables
• nuts
• whole grains
• beans
• coffee and tea
• fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines

Pro-inflammatory foods include:
• sweetened beverages and sugar-added foods
• foods made with flour and other refined carbohydrates
• red meat (meat from mammals)
• processed meats
• butter, margarine, shortening, lard
• fried foods

New Studies on the DASH Diet
The DASH Diet has been around for more than 20 years. New research shows that it unequivocally lowers high blood pressure (JAMA, published online March 9, 2017). The DASH Diet emphasizes foods rich in protein, fiber, potassium, magnesium and calcium, such as fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains and dairy products. It also limits foods that are high in saturated fat and sugar. DASH is not a reduced-salt (sodium) diet, but its blood pressure-lowering effect is enhanced by also reducing salt intake.

Another review of many scientific articles shows that the DASH Diet lowers CRP and other blood markers of inflammation that increase risk for heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and certain cancers (Clinical Nutrition, March 6, 2017).

Fruits and Vegetables Associated with Reduced Death Rate
A review of 142 articles shows that eating three servings a day of fruits and vegetables is associated with significantly decreased risk for heart attacks, strokes, cancers and premature death. Benefits of eating fruits and vegetables increases up to 10 servings per day. (International Journal of Epidemiology, March 2, 2017). See Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

March 18th, 2017
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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