Nutrition and cardiovascular health

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the leading cause of death worldwide. In India, one in four deaths is due to cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular diseases represent a group of conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels. It includes hypertension, stroke, peripheral arterial disease, atherosclerosis and venous diseases. According to several studies, the chance of developing cardiovascular disease increases with unhealthy eating habits and lifestyles such as:

  • Excessive intake of:
  • sodium
  • Processed food
  • Added sugars
  • Unhealthy fats
  • Low intake of:
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Whole grain
  • fiber
  • Legumes
  • Fish
  • nuts
  • Unhealthy lifestyle:
  • Lack of exercise
  • overweight
  • obesity
  • tension
  • alcohol consumption
  • smoke habit
  • CVDs often coincide with other conditions, such as:
  • obesity
  • diabetes mellitus
  • hypertension
  • Dyslipidemia

Role of diet in cardiovascular disease

A large body of scientific evidence suggests that diet may be one of the critical factors in preventing cardiovascular disease. A healthy diet can even reverse the condition in some cases. The nutrient-dense diet also helps manage other cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as:

  • Overweight
  • hypertension
  • diabetes mellitus
  • Dyslipidemia

There is some evidence that healthier diets and a higher intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and whole grains can keep your heart healthy.

What are the healthy diets?

Several studies suggest that healthy diets are often associated with lower concentrations of pro-inflammatory markers, while a meat-based diet may cause increased levels of mild inflammation.

Some examples of healthy diets are:

The Mediterranean diet controls the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. It also improves blood pressure (BP), glucose metabolism, lipid profile and gut microbiome and reduces the risk of arrhythmia.

The DASH diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This diet is inclusive

  • Low-fat or low-fat dairy products
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • nuts
  • Beans

It also limits the intake of foods high in saturated fat, red meat, processed meats, sugary drinks, sodium and refined grains.

There is scientific evidence to suggest that the DASH diet may provide the following benefits:

  • Improvements in BP
  • healthy body weight
  • Improving glucose-insulin homeostasis
  • Healthy blood lipids and lipoproteins levels
  • Reduction of mild inflammation
  • Improve endothelial function
  • Improve the gut microbiome

Which foods are beneficial for heart health?

If we find it difficult to stick to a certain diet, we can still achieve a heart-friendly diet by increasing our intake of heart-healthy foods, such as:

According to the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee, daily intake of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Some research suggests that a higher intake of fruits or vegetables significantly lowers levels of CRP and TNF-α (biomarkers of systemic inflammation).

According to several studies, diets rich in olive oil can reduce mild inflammation, oxidative stress and endothelial dysfunction.

Peanuts and walnuts have shown a reduction in morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease. The intake of nuts can also prevent the development of heart disease by

  • Managing a healthy body weight
  • Falling LDL-c levels
  • Reducing the risk of hypertension
  • Improving hyperglycemia and insulin resistance
  • wine

Wine consumption in moderate amounts can help prevent the development of atherosclerosis:

  • Lowers LDL-c level
  • Reduced oxidative stress
  • Improves endothelial function
  • Increases HDL-c levels
  • Inhibits platelet aggregation
  • Promotes fibrinolysis
  • Reduces systemic inflammation


Beer has a moderate amount of polyphenols, giving it better cardioprotective effects than distilled spirits. According to several studies, low to moderate beer consumption may protect against the risk of cardiovascular disease. The heart-healthy benefits of beer are comparable to moderate consumption of red wine.

Dietary fiber intake can improve heart health by:

  • Falling cholesterol levels
  • Manage BP
  • Micronutrients

Micronutrients improve heart health by:

  • Reduction of endothelial cell damage
  • Reducing the oxidation of LDL-c

According to several studies, a deficiency of micronutrients such as zinc, iron, magnesium, selenium, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C and vitamin E can lead to higher risks of cardiovascular disease.

A diet rich in bioactive compounds, such as lycopene, omega-3 fatty acids, and polyphenols, helps lower LDL-c levels, reduce the risk of developing atherosclerosis, and regulate the expression of markers of inflammatory and oxidative stress. regulate. Bioactive compounds also lower blood pressure and the risk of cancer in humans.

Antioxidants fight the damage-causing free radicals, which increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and other conditions. Foods rich in antioxidants include green and black tea, colorful fruits and vegetables, red wine, coffee, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices and chocolates.

With the change in diet and lifestyle habits, we can reduce and prevent numerous diseases, including cardiovascular diseases. Hence, instill these healthy habits in your children for their better future health.

Dr. Anand Pandey, Director & Senior – Cardiology, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi

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