‘Western’ diet grows risk of heart attack by 30%

TYPICALLY “western” diets that include a lot of fried food, salty snacks and meat contribute almost a third of the heart attack risk around the world, a study has found.

Researchers rated the eating habits of about 16,000 people in 52 countries, including almost 6,000 who had suffered heart attacks. They found poor diet could be to blame for 30% of the heart disease risk in any population. Participants had been enrolled in the Interheart study, a major worldwide probe of heart attack risk.

A team led by Professor Salim Yusuf, director of the Population Health Research Institute in Ontario, Canada, compared 5,761 heart attack cases with 10,646 people with no history of heart disease.

Scores for heart attack risk were assigned to different diets, based on 19 food groups. The scientists identified three global dietary patterns: “Oriental” marked by high consumption of tofu and soy; “Prudent” characterised by a high intake of fruits and vegetables; and “western”, which included relatively large amounts of fried foods, salty snacks, eggs and meat.

Participants with a western diet had a 35% greater risk of heart attack than those who ate little or no fried foods and meat.

The findings are reported in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation.

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