Dietary Pattern and Heart Diseases

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A study using a new statistical method examined the impact of the pattern of 49 food groups and their correlation with the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) in 455 German women.

• The food group that best predicted a lower CAD risk was vegetarian dishes.

• The 20% of subjects with a high risk of CAD averaged only about 1 vegetarian dish every 10 days.

• The lowest-CAD-risk subjects averaged 3 vegetarian dishes a day.

• The 20% who were most likely to have the greatest CAD risk consumed more than twice as much red meat, processed meats and poultry as the low-risk group.

• The high-CAD-risk group consumed only about one-third as much whole-grain cereal and museli as the low-risk group.

• Those at highest risk consumed fewer cooked and raw vegetables than the lowest-risk group.

• The women with the greatest risk of CAD consumed more than twice the margarine and other fats and oils (except olive oil) as those in the lowest-risk group.

• The low-CAD-risk women averaged about 4 oz of wine per day, while the high-CAD-risk women consumed little or no wine.

• The high-CAD-risk women consumed more than twice as much sauce. Sauces included ketchup, brown and white sauces, salad dressings and sauces used on vegetables (e.g., hollandaise).

The authors conclude: “This study showed a diet high in vegetarian dishes, wine, vegetables, and whole-grain cereals and low in meat, margarine, poultry, and sauce is associated with a more favorable biomarker profile and a reduced risk of CAD. Together with other available evidence, these results can be used when developing dietary recommendations to prevent premature cardiovascular disease.”1 Simply put, a diet low in meat and fatty foods but much higher in whole grains, beans, vegetables and perhaps a modest amount of wine is likely best for preventing CAD in women as well as men.

By James Kenney, PhD, RD, LD, FACN

1 Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80:633-40

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