Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases

Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health

Nutritional Recommendations for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention
Level of evidence and classes of recommendations for food items is summarized in Table 7. Due to their biochemical similarity, plant sterols and stanols can displace cholesterol from mixed micelles in the intestine, thus reducing the absorption of dietary cholesterol [ ]. Flavonoids , compounds that occur in a variety of foods such as tea, onions and apples, could also possibly reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. The Plum Print next to each article shows the relative activity in each of these categories of metrics: Weight loss with a low-carbohydrate, mediterranean, or low-fat diet.

WHO Technical Report Series, No. 916 (TRS 916)


In particular, they are found in soybean and sunflower oils as well as in fatty fish and plant foods. Polyunsaturated fatty acids have many positive effects, notably on blood pressure, heart function, blood clotting, and inflammatory mechanisms.

Most of this evidence is a result of fish consumption studies. In one particular study, a group of patients who survived a heart attack were given fish oils over several years. Cholesterol , which is an essential component of cell membranes and certain hormones , is produced by the liver, but it is also present in dairy products, meat and eggs.

A high amount of a certain type of cholesterol Low Density Lipoprotein or LDL in the blood can lead to its deposition in the arteries that can restrict blood flow and may cause heart problems. It is not clear whether dietary cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular disease, but it is recommended to avoid excessive intake. Cholesterol is not, in fact, required in the diet because it is produced by the liver in sufficient amounts.

Dietary fibre is also a major factor in reducing total cholesterol in the blood and LDL cholesterol in particular. Eating a diet high in fibre and wholegrain cereals can reduce the risk of coronary heat disease. An intake of 0. Flavonoids , compounds that occur in a variety of foods such as tea, onions and apples, could also possibly reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. There is insufficient evidence to support the theory that antioxidants such as Vitamin E , Vitamin C or b-carotene might reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases CVD.

A high intake of salt sodium has been linked to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for stroke and coronary heart disease. There is convincing evidence that a reduction in the daily intake of sodium by 50 mmol , i. Taking potassium supplements has been shown to reduce blood pressure and the risk of CVD.

However, the recommended level of fruit and vegetable consumption supplies an adequate intake of potassium and there is no evidence in favour of long term potassium supplementation to reduce the risk of CVD.

Consumption of fruits and vegetables has been widely associated with good health. Recent studies show a protective effect against coronary heart disease , stroke and high blood pressure. Fish consumption also reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. The benefits are most evident in high risk groups. Other dietary factors may also contribute to reducing the risk. Nuts are high in unsaturated fatty acids and low in saturated fats, which contribute to lowering cholesterol levels.

Several animal experiments have suggested that isoflavones, present in soy products , may provide protection against coronary heart disease. Alcohol can have both a damaging and protective role in the development of cardiovascular disease. Despite convincing evidence that low to moderate alcohol consumption reduces the risk of coronary heart disease , consumption should be limited because of the risk of other cardiovascular diseases and health problems. Coffee beans contain a substance called cafestol , which can raise the level of cholesterol in the blood and may increase the risk of coronary heart disease.

The amount of cafestol in the cup depends on the brewing method: Products commonly used for cooking, such as hydrogenated fats or coconut and palm oil, contain saturated fatty acids. Limiting the amount of saturated fatty acids consumed can be accomplished by restricting the intake of fat from dairy and meat sources, avoiding the use of hydrogenated oils in cooking, and ensuring a regular intake of fish once or twice per week.

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