WASHINGTON: The typical Western diet, which includes red meat, fried foods, dairy products and salty snacks, is responsible for 30 per cent of the wo
rld's heart attacks, according to a study of dietary patterns in 52 countries. The study has been reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
Researchers identified three dietary patterns in the world: Oriental, which include higher intake of tofu, soy and other sauces; Prudent, which includes higher intake of fruits and vegetables; and Western, which includes higher intake of fried foods, salty snacks, eggs and meat.
The Prudent diet was associated with a lower heart attack risk than the Oriental, researchers said. "The objective of this study was to understand the modifiable risk factors of heart attacks at a global level," said Salim Yusuf, D.Phil., the study's senior author.
Researchers analyzed the INTERHEART study, which documents the association of various risk factors and the risk of heart attack in about 16,000 participants in 52 countries. Here, they analyzed 5,761 heart attack cases and compared them to 10,646 people without known heart disease (controls).
The researchers created a dietary risk score questionnaire for heart attacks patients, based on 19 food groups and adjusted it for dietary preferences for each country. Trained medical personnel interviewed the heart attack patients and the control group. The questionnaires included healthy food items (such as fruits and vegetables) and unhealthy food items (such as fried foods and salty snacks).
"A simple dietary score, which included both good and bad foods with the higher score indicating a worse diet, showed that 30 percent of the risk of heart disease in a population could be related to poor diet," said Romania Iqbal, Ph.D., lead author of the study.
After adjusting for known risk factors, researchers found: people who consumed the Prudent diet of more fruits and vegetables had a 30% lower risk of heart attack compared to people who ate little or no fruits and vegetables; people who consumed the Western diet had a 35% greater risk of having a heart attack compared to people who consumed little or no fried foods and meat; and the Oriental pattern showed no relationship with heart attack risk.
Researchers said that while some components of the Oriental pattern may be protective, others such as the higher sodium content of soy sauces, may increase cardiovascular risk, neutralizing any relationship.
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