A heart attack is a medical emergency whereby the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot. It is vital for a person to ensure their diet is heart-healthy with one diet in particular which could help to lower your risk of a heart attack.
Two new research studies published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that eating more nutritious, plant-based foods is best for a healthy heart and lowered cholesterol levels.
Researchers found that both young adults and postmenopausal women had fewer heart attacks and were less likely to develop cardiovascular disease when they ate more healthy plant foods.
The American Heart Association Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations advised an overall healthy dietary pattern that emphasises a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes and non-tropical vegetable oils.
It also advises limited consumption of saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, red meat, sweets and sugary drinks.
“Earlier research was focused on single nutrients or single foods, yet there is little data about a plant-centred diet and the long-term risk of cardiovascular disease,” said Dr Yuni Choi, lead author of the young adult study.
He continued: “A nutritionally rich, plant-centred diet is beneficial for cardiovascular health.
“A plant-centred diet is not necessarily vegetarian.
“People can choose among plant foods that are as close to natural as possible, not highly processed.
“We think that individuals can include animal products in moderation from time to time, such as non-fried poultry, non-fried fish, eggs and low-fat dairy.”
The main points of the study included:
During 32 years of follow-up, 289 of the participants developed cardiovascular disease (including heart attack, stroke, heart failure, heart-related chest pain or clogged arteries anywhere in the body).
People who scored in the top 20 percent on the long-term diet quality score (meaning they ate the most nutritionally rich plant foods and fewer adversely rated animal products) were 52 percent less likely to develop cardiovascular disease, after considering several factors (including age, sex, race, average caloric consumption, education, parental history of heart disease, smoking and average physical activity).
In addition, between year seven and 20 of the study when participants ages ranged from 25 to 50, those who improved their diet quality the most (eating more beneficial plant foods and fewer adversely rated animal products) were 61 percent less likely to develop subsequent cardiovascular disease, in comparison to the participants whose diet quality declined the most during that time.
“The idea that a low-fat vegetarian or vegan diet could ‘reverse’ heart disease has been circulating for more than 20 years,” said British Heart Foundation nutritionist Victoria Taylor.
She continued: “This way of eating has become more popular in the last couple of years. It has lots of benefits, but the truth is more complex than headlines suggest.
“We know that changing your diet and lifestyle, as well as taking prescribed medications, will help slow the progression of coronary heart disease, but reversal is another matter.
“Evidence for a plant-based diet originated in the 1980s, in a very small study of 22 people.
“It found that four participants had a reversal of the disease in their arteries after following a very strict plant-based diet.”
Symptoms of a heart attack which you need to be aware of include:
- Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw or back.
- Nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain.
- Shortness of breath.
- Cold sweat.
- Light-headedness or sudden dizziness.