How to Have a Heart Attack: Keep Eating the Western Diet

A multi-national study just published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association concludes about 30 percent of heart attack risk comes from one thing - diet.

Is it your family history? Your age? Just plain bad luck?

No. Instead, according to the research, the cause is something people in 52 countries are doing to themselves -- eating the so-called typical Western diet loaded with fried foods, meat and salty junk food snacks.

However, the scientists found that when people’s diets included a high intake of fruits and vegetables -- he same eating strategy natural health advocates have been urging for decades -- heart attack risk plummeted.

"The objective of this study was to understand the modifiable risk factors of heart attacks at a global level," Salim Yusuf, D.Phil., the study's senior author, said in a statement to the media.

The study also looked at the unique dietary pattern the scientists dubbed “Oriental” that contains a lot of soy and salt laden sauces. They found the “Oriental” diet did not raise the risk of heart attack but didn’t lower it, either. In fact, it was only the eating style the research team labeled the “Prudent” diet -- the one loaded with fruits and veggies -- that dramatically decreased heart attack risk.

Dr. Yusuf’s team used data from the INTERHEART study and analyzed 5,761 heart attack cases and compared them to 10,646 controls who had no known heart disease. A dietary risk score questionnaire was used to interview and document the eating habits of the heart attack patients. "A simple dietary score, which included both good and bad foods with the higher score indicating a worse diet, showed that 30 percent of the risk of heart disease in a population could be related to poor diet," Romania Iqbal, Ph.D., Dr. Yusuf’s co-researcher, explained in a press statement.

After adjusting for known cardiovascular risk factors, the scientists found:
• People who consumed more fruits and vegetables had a 30 percent lower risk of heart attack compared to people who ate few or no fruits and vegetables.
• People who ate a typical Western diet, no matter what part of the world they lived in, had a 35 percent greater risk of having a heart attack compared to people who consumed little or no fried foods and meat.

This shows an unhealthy dietary intake marked by meat, fried and salty foods and not enough fruits and vegetables accounts for nearly one-third of the world population's attributable risk for heart attack, Dr. Yusuf, Director of the Population Health Research Institute at Hamilton Health Sciences in Ontario, Canada,explained in a prepared statement.

Bottom line: Imagine the billions of dollars drug companies would make off of a medication that could slash the risk of heart attack by almost a third. Instead of waiting for such a “miracle drug”, mindful eating of micronutrient, vitamin, mineral, fiber rich and delicious fruits and vegetables makes more sense – and following this style of healthy eating can help reduce the risk of a host of other diseases too, from diabetes to cancer. (naturalnews,10.21.2008, Sherry Baker) (see all articles by this author)