By taking iron rich, vitamin D-rich foods, and cutting out red meat, you can lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
That’s the conclusion of a new study led by a Cornell University nutrition professor.
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows that the consumption of red meat and low-fat dairy products are associated with reduced risks of heart attack, stroke and diabetes.
Iron rich foods include onions, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, caulking, peas, spinach, tomatoes, eggplant, egg, beans, legumes, rice, quinoa, bran and whole grains.
Red meat, such as beef, pork, lamb and chicken, contain cholesterol, while fish, poultry, shellfish and other seafood contain omega-3 fatty acids.
Red meats are rich in saturated fat, while low- or high-fat versions contain omega 3 fatty acids, which are good for heart health.
The more omega-6 fatty acids in a food, the better.
But, as Dr. James Kimbrell, the study’s lead author and a professor at Cornell’s Department of Nutrition and Public Health, says, “The good news is that you can reduce your risk by eating foods that are high in omega-4 fatty acids.”
Dr. Kimbreld says that the combination of low- and high-fiber foods and healthy fats may reduce the risk of death from heart disease by 20% to 50% compared to the typical American diet.
“People who have heart disease and have reduced levels of omega-5 fatty acids have about a 50% lower risk of dying of heart failure than people who do not have heart failure,” he said.
But, Dr. Kimbrays research team also found that a diet rich in fish and other low-fibre, whole grain foods and vegetables that include a high amount of fiber are also associated with a lower risk.
Fish are rich sources of protein, iron, calcium, vitamin B6 and fiber.
But a high intake of saturated fat is also associated to heart disease.
So, eating a diet with fewer saturated fats may be the best way to lower your cholesterol and heart disease risk.
Dr. Jennifer R. Moore, an assistant professor at the Cornell University Department of Nutritional Sciences, says the new study was interesting because it focused on low-income and minority communities.
“We know that the food systems in poorer communities are more vulnerable to the health effects of low saturated fat intake and lower intakes of iron,” she said.
“If you are not in a minority group, you may not have access to low-saturated fat and high fiber foods.
So this is a new avenue for intervention that could have real-world impact.”
Dr Kimbrella says the current study is not perfect, because there were some limitations.
For example, it does not include people who are obese and have high cholesterol levels, which can increase the risk.
However, the results are consistent with studies that show that there is a link between diet and cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Dr Kimbray is also hopeful that the results will be replicated in more large studies, which would give more solid data on the benefits of the new dietary guidelines.
“This is not a magic bullet,” he says.
“But it’s a very strong recommendation.”