A new analysis suggests that diet can have a profound impact on heart health. More than 90,000 postmenopausal women participating in the Women’s Health Initiative were followed for over 10 years. During that time they filled out two separate food frequency questionnaires.
Investigators classified their eating patterns by how closely they resembled a Mediterranean-style diet high in vegetables, fruit, whole grains and unsaturated fat. This dietary plan also includes nuts, fish and moderate amounts of alcohol, primarily as wine. The women who scored highest on a such a diet reduced their risk of sudden cardiac death during follow-up by nearly 40 percent. Strangely, their score on the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet was not linked to their risk of sudden cardiac death.
Earlier studies have also found a similar benefit in reducing the likelihood of premature cardiovascular mortality. Analysis of data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study also showed that a higher Mediterranean diet score was linked to a lower chance of dying for any reason during follow-up, even among adults with heart disease.
Evidence has been accumulating that a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, fish, extra-virgin olive oil, nuts and legumes and skimpy on red meat, high-fat dairy products and refined grains seems to have many health benefits. If you would enjoy exploring some recipes featuring these healthful foods, you might like our book, Recipes & Remedies From The People’s Pharmacy.