#HeartAwarenessMonth: Heart healthy diet challenged in new study
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A new global study challenges conventional thinking about heart healthy diets, finding that moderate amounts of dairy and unprocessed red meat may in fact be beneficial for longevity and cardiovascular health.
The large-scale global study, published in the medical journal Lancet, found a diet limited in refined carbohydrates, rich in fruit and vegetables and which includes moderate amounts of fat, protein and dairy may lower cardiovascular risk – the leading cause of death in South Africa, claiming 225 lives a day.
Study leader, Prof Salim Yusuf from McMaster University, Canada, said: “Thinking on what constitutes a high-quality diet for a global population needs to be reconsidered…our results show that dairy products and meat are beneficial for heart health and longevity. This differs from current dietary advice.”
Researcher, Dr Andrew Mente, added: “People who consumed a diet emphasising fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, fish, dairy products, and (unprocessed) meat had the lowest risks of cardiovascular disease and early death."
Mente said there was consensus on the benefits of fruit and vegetables, but research showed that moderate intake of whole fat dairy, unprocessed meat, fish and nuts may also be beneficial, while high levels of starch were harmful.
The study, which spanned 50 countries and included 218 000 adults, found the healthiest participants consumed a daily average of 8.4 servings of fruit and vegetables, 2.5 servings of nuts and legumes, 3.0 servings of dairy, 1.4 servings of red meat, and 0.3 servings of fish. It found those with the highest-quality diet had a 25% lower risk of mortality, 22% less risk of heart attack and a 25% lower risk of stroke compared to those with a poorer quality diet.
Nutritional expert, Vanessa Ascencao said fruit and vegetables remain the most prominent components of a healthy diet and unprocessed red meat should preferably be organic and hormone free and consumed in moderation. In addition to a nutritious diet, a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and supplementing with the enzyme CoQ10, may contribute to improved cardiovascular health.
Ascencao said two important studies this year confirmed CoQ10’s importance in treating cardiovascular disease and significantly lowering cardiovascular mortality risk, while the health benefits of CoQ10 are so strong that it is registered as a treatment for heart failure in Japan where it is also one of the top five used medications.
CoQ10 is a naturally occurring nutrient and anti-oxidant found in the heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas and deficiency is linked to disease, poor diet and an unhealthy lifestyle. “A quality supplement like Biomax CoQ10 is clinically proven to double CoQ10 levels within three weeks which helps maintain healthy blood vessels, may lower blood pressure and supports the heart muscle,” said Ascencao.