Adherence to a “prudent diet”, rich in whole grains, fruits, legumes, fish, vegetables and poultry has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease and overall mortality in women, according to the results of a prospective study reported in the June 23 Online First issue of Circulation. Conversely, a “Western diet”, consisting of red and processed meat, refined grains, french fries, and sweets are likely to increase a woman’s risk of heart disease and death from other causes.
According to study authors, Christin Heidemann, DrPH, MSc, from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues, “Greater adherence to the prudent pattern may reduce the risk of cardiovascular and total mortality, whereas greater adherence to the Western pattern may increase the risk among initially healthy women. These data highlight the importance of health professional and public health efforts to help to adopt healthy overall dietary patterns including high intakes of plant foods such as vegetables, fruit, legumes, and whole grains; high intakes of fish and poultry; and low intakes of red and processed meat, refined grains, french fries, and sweets.”
The study was developed to measure the effect of major dietary patterns “on subsequent risk of mortality resulting from CVD [cardiovascular disease], cancer, and all causes in a large cohort study of women. The impact of overall dietary patterns that reflect actual eating behaviors on mortality caused by cardiovascular or other chronic diseases is largely unknown,” say the study authors.
Women involved in the analysis were enrolled in The Nurses’ Health Study - a large study of 121,700 female US nurses aged 30 to 55 years at baseline who completed baseline questionnaires with follow-up every 2 years from 1987 to 2002. Ninety seven percent of the participants were white. The results showed a 28% reduction in death from heart disease, 30% reduction in deaths from “other causes”, and 17% reduction of total mortality. The reduction in deaths from cancer was not significant in this particular study.
The conclusion: Women may remain healthier and live longer by reducing their intake of red meat, sweets, french fries, processed meat and refined grains in exchange for plant foods, fish and poultry.
Circulation. Published online June 23, 2008.
Kathleen is a Registered Nurse - please visit her blog for more information about health and wellness.