AF Association News & Events

Diet of anti-inflammatory foods could help to reduce risk of stroke and heart disease

Dr Jun Li (Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Boston, USA) and others report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) that diets high in red and processed meat, refined grains and sugary beverages — which have been associated with increased inflammation in the body — can increase subsequent risk of heart disease and stroke compared with diets filled with anti-inflammatory foods.

Li et al used data from the men and women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Studies I and II (starting from 1986 and included up to 32 years of follow up). After excluding participants with missing diet information or previously diagnosed heart disease, stroke or cancer, more than 210,000 participants were included in the analysis. The participants completed a survey every four years to ascertain dietary intake.

After controlling for other risk factors such as BMI, physical activity, family history of heart disease and multivitamin use, Li et al found that the participants consuming proinflammatory diets had a 46% higher risk of heart disease and 28% higher risk of stroke, compared to those consuming anti-inflammatory diets.

Li comments: “Using an empirically-developed, food-based dietary index to evaluate levels of inflammation associated with dietary intake, we found that dietary patterns with higher inflammatory potential were associated with an increased rate of cardiovascular disease. Our study is among the first to link a food-based dietary inflammatory index with long-term risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Therefore, based on their findings, the authors suggest consuming foods with higher levels of antioxidants and fibre to help combat inflammation. For example, green leafy vegetables, yellow vegetables (pumpkin, peppers, beans, carrots), and whole grains. They also advise limiting intake of refined sugars and grains, fried foods, sodas, and restricting processed, red and organ meat. These foods are among the major contributors to the proinflammatory dietary index.

A core aim of the AF Association is to Protect against AF-related stroke, which can be devasting. The charity does this be advocating the need to Detect AF so that people with AF can receive Protect therapies (specifically, direct oral anticoagulants). However, the charity, as part of the end to Perfect the AF patient pathway, also encourages risk factor modification to reduce the overall risk of cardiovascular disease (include AF-related stroke).

Save the date! The Global AF Aware Week (16 - 22 November), organised by AF Association, will put the spotlight on AF. The Detect, Protect, Correct, and Perfect campaign aims to easily detect AF with a simple 30-second pulse check — preventing AF-related stroke or heart failure.

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