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Diet (Part 1)

Diet affects our risk of developing heart problems. Dr Ditte Hobbs discusses several food groups that contribute to a healthy diet.
Hello. My name is Dr Ditte Hobbs and today, I’m going to talk to you about diet and cardiovascular disease. An unhealthy diet is characterised by high dietary intakes of saturated fat, trans fat, and salt, and low intakes of fruit and vegetables and fish. Having a healthy, well-balanced diet can reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease and prevent weight gain, reducing risk of diabetes and high blood pressure. It can also help lower cholesterol levels and prevent some cancers. Even if you already have a heart condition, having a healthy diet can be beneficial to your heart. Approximately 1.7 million of deaths worldwide are attributable to low fruit and vegetable consumption.
Therefore, including at least five 80-gramme portions of fruit and vegetables a day is important to prevent chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease. Type of fruit and vegetable should be varied and can be fresh, frozen, dried, or tinned. Pure unsweetened fruit juices, poultice, and beans count as one portion, but they only may cover maximum of one of your five a day, however much you eat in one day. The scientific research behind this recommendation, a study such as the Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, which is the largest and longest study to date. It included almost 110,000 men and women whose health and dietary habits were followed for 14 years.
The study found that the higher average daily intake of fruit and vegetables, the lower the chances of developing cardiovascular disease compared with those in the lowest category of fruit and vegetable intake, which consumed less than 1.5 servings a day. Those who averaged eight or more servings a day were 30% less likely to have a heart attack or stroke. Although all fruit and vegetables are likely to contribute to this benefit, green leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and spinach; cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower; as well as citrus fruit, such as oranges and lemons, as well as their juices make important contributions.
The protective effects of these types of fruit and vegetables in cardiovascular disease have been attributed to various vitamins and minerals and phytochemicals, particularly the flavonoid group, which has been associated with reduced risk of heart disease. The protective effects of the green leafy vegetables have been suggested to be as a result of dietary nitrate, which is a naturally-occurring anion that’s been shown to dramatically lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for the development of heart disease and stroke. It is therefore of considerable importance that blood pressure is controlled. Diet can be a very effective tool for lowering pressure.
One of the most convincing associations between diet and blood pressure was found in the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Study. This study examined the effects of a diet that was rich in fruit and vegetables and low-fat dairy products and that restricted the amount of saturated fat and total fat and blood pressure. The researchers found that people with high blood pressure who followed this diet reduced their systolic blood pressure by about 11 mmHg and their diastolic blood pressure by almost 6 mmHg. This is as much as some medications can achieve. In the next video, we’ll look at salt, fats, and carbohydrates in relation to cardiovascular disease.

It is widely known that diet affects our health. Not only does diet impact on our balance of energy – an imbalance leading to weight gain or loss – there are also other factors of diet that can affect our risk of cardiovascular disease.

In this video, Dr Ditte Hobbs discusses several different food groups including fruit and vegetables that contribute to a healthy diet.

You can download the Week 4 supplement, which contains additional images and descriptions to help you understand the topics covered in this video.

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Heart Health: A Beginner's Guide to Cardiovascular Disease

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