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The foods we eat not only affect our health, but also our weight, cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Certain foods can also promote or prevent chronic inflammation, which researchers increasingly recognize as the underlying cause of many health problems.
While research has shown that certain types of diet (such as the Mediterranean diet) or nutrients (such as antioxidants) are associated with lower levels of inflammation, A new study published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology adds new evidence for the link between inflammation and what we eat, and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Researchers followed over 200,000 men and women for up to 32 years. People on the most anti-inflammatory diet had a 46% increased risk of heart disease and 28% increased risk of stroke compared to those on the most anti-inflammatory diet.
The study is one of the first to measure the inflammatory effects of foods that make up a person̵7;s diet, said Jun Li, lead author of the new study – rather than just ingredients. nutrients in that diet – for heart disease and stroke risk, Jun Li, lead author of the new study and research scientist in the department of nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. This can make it easier for you to formulate dietary guidelines for controlling inflammation because you can tell people what foods to eat and which to cut back.
Dayong Wu, MD, a scientist in the Laboratory of Nutrition Immunology at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, said:, who was not involved in the study assist. And the data show a clear difference between the anti-inflammatory diet and the reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
What is inflammation
Inflammation is the immune system’s response to illness or injury. When you have an infection or cut your finger, the white blood cells produce chemicals to fight off invaders or protect the area. These substances are released into the bloodstream, increasing blood flow to the area, causing inflammation. In cases like these, inflammation is only temporary and promotes healing.
But sometimes the immune system doesn’t shut down, and it can even mistake healthy cells as a perceived threat. This can lead to low-level chronic inflammation, which over time can damage healthy tissues.
How diet affects inflammation
Some foods contain compounds, such as antioxidants and other phytochemicals, that reduce inflammation. Others contain substances, such as refined sugars and saturated fats, that trigger reactions in the body that promote inflammation, including high blood sugar or plaque buildup in coronary arteries. .
In the new study, researchers compared the intake of 18 food groups known to affect inflammation and the risk of heart disease and stroke. Inflammable foods include red and processed meats; refined carbohydrates, such as white flour and sugar; and sugary drinks. Foods with the best anti-inflammatory properties are yellow vegetables, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, fruits, tea, coffee and wine.
Another study published in the same journal, which evaluated the effects of eating about 1 to 2 ounces of walnuts per day on inflammation, found that regular consumption of walnuts had a preservative effect. protection. That study was funded in part by the California Walnuts Commission. But it’s “the biggest and longest nut test to date,” which, according to an editorial accompanying studies, provides substantial evidence that including walnuts in the diet can help reduce inflammation.
In addition to nuts, the authors of the editorial also point to virgin olive oil and fatty fish as anti-inflammatory.
Although the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease in Li’s study occurred in those with the diets considered the best anti-inflammatory, the data showed that moderate dietary compliance was present. Anti-inflammatory effect is also beneficial.
“We were surprised by the certainty of our results,” Li said. People who follow the most “anti-inflammatory diet” also don’t completely avoid inflammatory foods, like processed meats or sugary drinks; they just consume them much less.
However, this is an observational study, so the results do not prove that the anti-inflammatory diet causes cardiovascular disease, even if there is a good reason to think it might happen.
While researchers control many of the factors that may affect inflammation – such as smoking, weight, aspirin use, high blood pressure, and a family history of cardiovascular disease – it may still be possible. Unknown characteristics explain differences in results.
In addition, the majority of study participants were white people. Li and her colleagues are doing similar research on groups with more Blacks and Latino people, she said, but they expect similar results. Her advice for everyone: “Consuming more anti-inflammatory foods and less inflammatory foods can help control inflammation and the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.”
“This study gives us a better understanding of the mechanism by which different foods may act on inflammatory markers,” said Amy Keating, RD, a dietitian at Consumer Reports. “In general, people don’t eat enough vegetables and whole grains, and when they do, they tend to eat the same things. This study shows the benefits of branching ”. Here are some suggestions from Keating and other CR nutrition experts to increase your intake of anti-inflammatory foods highlighted in the study.
Use corn tortillas to make enchilada casseroles with lean ground beef, peppers, black beans, and corn.
Try teff, a mildly sweet Ethiopian whole grain, in place of rice or bulgur in recipes.
Make a pia cake with walnuts, basil or parsley, olive oil, garlic and Parmesan cheese. Whipped into whole grains or pasta or used as a coating for poultry.