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A healthy diet halves heart disease risk

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Eating plenty of vegetables and fruit can halve your risk of heart disease, including a heart attack and stroke.

People eating the healthiest diets—which included fruits and vegetables, fish and nuts and excluded processed foods—were 52 percent less likely to develop heart disease.  Young people, who start eating a healthy diet by the time they’re 30, and post-menopausal women seemed to get the greatest protection, but it’s a strategy that works for everyone of all ages, researchers say.

The importance of a healthy diet has been underlined by two major studies that tracked the health of people under the age of 30 and postmenopausal women.  In one, nearly 5,000 young adults were tracked for 32 years, during which time 289 developed heart disease.  Those who ate the healthiest diet at the start of the study had the lowest risk of heart disease—and encouragingly those who took up a healthier diet up to the age of 50 reduced their risk of further disease by 61 percent.

A similar picture was seen in a separate study of 123,000 postmenopausal women who were aged between 50 and 79.  Those who ate a healthy diet were 17 percent less likely to suffer heart failure and a 14 percent lower risk of coronary artery disease. 

(Sources: Journal of the American Heart Association, 2021; doi: 10.1161/JAHA.121.021515 and doi: 10.1161/JAHA.120.020718)

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Article Topics: nutrition
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