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After Heart Attack, Healthier Eating Leads to Longer Life

People who change their eating habits after a heart attack tend to live longer than those who continue to consume less healthy foods.  Harvard researchers studied 2,258 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 1,840 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. All of these people had survived a heart attack.

The study subjects answered questions about diet and lifestyle both before and after their cardiac event. (They were enrolled in long-term cohort studies that follow the subjects for many years.) Those who improved their diets the most after their heart attacks reduced their risk of dying from cardiovascular causes by 40%. This finding is consistent with a French study, the Lyon Diet-Heart Study, that randomized heart attack survivors to either a Mediterranean-type diet or their usual French fare. Those following the Mediterranean diet had significantly better results.

The authors of the current study recommend that more attention be paid to including healthy fats such as avocado or olive oil in the diet and reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit juice.

[JAMA Internal Medicine, online, Sept. 2, 2013]

If you need help figuring out how to prepare heart-healthy foods, we suggest our book, Recipes & Remedies from The People’s Pharmacy. It contains delicious recipes from many of our favorite radio show guests, including one of the senior authors of this study, Dr. Walter Willett, Chair of Nutrition at the Harvard University School of Public Health.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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