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What to Eat to Reduce Inflammation and Lower Heart Disease and Stroke Risk

Chronic inflammation has been shown to play an important role in the development of heart disease and stroke.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology diets high in red and processed meat, refined grains and sugary beverages have been associated with increased inflammation subsequently increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

The study consisted of 210,000 participants and started from 1986 and included up to 32 years of follow up.

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.

Jun Li, MD, PhD, lead author of the study and research scientist in the department of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health stated that this study is among the first to link a food-based dietary inflammatory index with long-term risk of cardiovascular disease.â€

Previous studies have found that diet can influence inflammation levels such as the Mediterranean diet (rich in olive oil, nuts, whole grain, fruits and vegetables, and seafood consumption, and light on dairy and red/processed meat), have shown lower concentrations of some inflammatory biomarkers and lower heart disease risk. 

The researchers suggested consuming foods with higher levels of antioxidants and fiber to help combat inflammation: Green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, cabbage, arugula), yellow vegetables (pumpkin, yellow peppers, beans, carrots), whole grains, coffee, tea and wine. The researchers also suggested 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.

The Inclusion of Walnuts into Diet Decreases Inflammation

Montserrant Cofán, PhD and a researcher at the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain conducted a study and showed that long-term consumption of walnuts demonstrated a lower heart disease risk and lower overall cholesterol.

The study consisted of 634 participants who were assigned either a diet without walnuts or a diet with regularly incorporated walnuts (about 30-60 grams per day). After a follow up period of two years, those who ate a diet with walnuts showed significantly reduced levels of inflammation in the body in 6 out of 10 of the inflammatory biomarkers tested.

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