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Curr Opin Cardiol. 2009 Sep;24(5):433-41. doi: 10.1097/HCO.0b013e32832f2fb1.

The role of diet and nutritional supplements in preventing and treating cardiovascular disease.

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Department of Nutritional Sciences, Pennsylvania State University, PA 16802, USA.



Healthy lifestyle practices play a key role in preventing and treating cardiovascular disease, and central to such strategy is a recommended dietary pattern. Current Dietary Guidelines from the US Department of Agriculture and the American Heart Association advocate a food-based diet for optimal health and prevention of chronic disease. Considerable research has focused on implementing these guidelines for maximal cardiovascular risk reduction, and this review will discuss the role of specific dietary strategies and select nutrition supplements in achieving this goal.


Food-based guidelines are reflected in specific dietary approaches to improve cardiovascular risk factors, such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet and Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes, which have shown to effectively benefit hypertension and hypercholesterolemia, respectively. These diets, therefore, significantly reduce coronary heart disease risk. Although such dietary approaches ensure that nutrient requirements are met through foods, nutrition supplement use in the United States is at an all time high.


The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet and Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes Diet are effective in decreasing cardiovascular morbidity and mortality risk, and such dietary strategies are endorsed by many organizations, including the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. In contrast, although some dietary supplements, such as fish oil and niacin, have shown promising cardiovascular effects, justifying their widespread use in clinical practice for some patients, there is insufficient evidence for others. Clinicians should carefully evaluate the claims made for new diet therapies, supplements, or both when counseling at-risk individuals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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