An unhealthy diet causes around half of all deaths from heart disease

Ten foods have a particularly strong impact on certain diseases
You have probably heard of the fact that an unhealthy diet can lead to many health problems. Researchers have now found that consuming the right amount of certain foods could avoid many deaths from poor nutrition.

Scientists at Tufts University found that about half of deaths from heart disease, strokes, and type 2 diabetes could be avoided by eating certain foods. The doctors published the results of their study in the medical journal "JAMA" (Journal of the American Medical Association).

Are 45 percent of deaths from certain diseases related to diet?
The authors said that approximately 45 percent of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes deaths in America in 2012 were due to people consuming too much or too little of ten specific types of food.

Study leads to better understanding
The results of the study help to better understand which foods can help people die prematurely from so-called cardiometabolic diseases, explains author Dr. Renata Micha from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston.

Focus more on increased consumption of healthy foods
"We should make sure that we maximize the consumption of healthy food instead of focusing on reducing the consumption of unhealthy products," added the expert. In addition, people should pay more attention to total food and not just individual nutrients.

The current study builds on a variety of sources. These included, for example, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys collected from 1999 to 2002 and from 2009 to 2012.

These ten components of the diet have a particularly strong impact
The scientists identified ten different nutritional components that are closely related to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. These include sodium, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, unprocessed red meat, processed meats, polyunsaturated fats, seafood and sugary drinks.

Almost half of the deaths could be avoided by eating properly
Based on the participants' food diaries, the researchers estimated that 318,656 of the 702,308 deaths from heart disease, stroke, or type 2 diabetes affected people who consumed too much or too little of these ten foods.

Effects of certain foods on mortality
Eating too much sodium has been linked to 66,508 deaths. Consuming too few nuts and seeds was associated with 59,374 deaths, the scientists say. Eating too much processed meat has been linked to 57,766 deaths, while underfat fish has resulted in 54,626 deaths. A diet low in vegetables caused 53,410 deaths. In addition, 52,547 deaths were attributed to the consumption of too little fruit, the authors explain. High sugar drinks resulted in 51,695 deaths.

Men are affected more than women
In the course of the study it became clear that men die more frequently than women from cardiometabolic diseases which are associated with a suboptimal diet. Younger people were more at risk than older people. People with a higher education were less at risk compared to people with less education, the doctors explain.

There was a clear decline in deaths between the two survey periods
Between the two survey periods, the rate of death from cardiometabolic diseases in the United States fell by more than 25 percent. During this time, people's diet improved. The experts ingested more polyunsaturated fats, nuts and seeds, whole grains and fruits. They also reduced the consumption of sugary drinks.

The food system has to change
People should know that there will be no miracle cure to completely reduce cardiometabolic disease, the researchers emphasize. A healthy diet is important. To help individuals, the food system needs to be changed, author Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian from Tufts University. Within the food system, people can look at the various factors of nutrition, then try to improve one of them. When this goal is achieved, the next factor in nutrition can be addressed, the expert adds. (as)

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