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Clin Chim Acta. 2011 Aug 17;412(17-18):1493-514. doi: 10.1016/j.cca.2011.04.038. Epub 2011 May 7.

Coronary heart disease prevention: nutrients, foods, and dietary patterns.

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  • 1Department of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Abstract

Diet is a key modifiable risk factor in the prevention and risk reduction of coronary heart disease (CHD). Results from the Seven Countries Study in the early 1970s spurred an interest in the role of single nutrients such as total fat in CHD risk. With accumulating evidence, we have moved away from a focus on total fat to the importance of considering the quality of fat. Recent meta-analyses of intervention studies confirm the beneficial effects of replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fatty acids on CHD risk. Scientific evidence for a detrimental role of trans fat intake from industrial sources on CHD risk has led to important policy changes including listing trans fatty acid content on the "Nutrition Facts" panel and banning the use of trans fatty acids in food service establishments in some cities. The effects of such policy changes on changes in CHD incidence are yet to be evaluated. There has been a surging interest in the protective effects of vitamin D in primary prevention. Yet, its associations with secondary events have been mixed and intervention studies are needed to clarify its role in CHD prevention. Epidemiological and clinical trial evidence surrounding the benefit of B vitamins and antioxidants such as carotenoids, vitamin E, and vitamin C, have been contradictory. While pharmacological supplementation of these vitamins in populations with existing CHD has been ineffective and, in some cases, even detrimental, data repeatedly show that consumption of a healthy dietary pattern has considerable cardioprotective effects for primary prevention. Results from these studies and the general ineffectiveness of nutrient-based interventions have shifted interest to the role of foods in CHD risk reduction. The strongest and most consistent protective associations are seen with fruit and vegetables, fish, and whole grains. Epidemiological and clinical trial data also show risk reduction with moderate alcohol consumption. In the past decade, there has been a paradigm shift in nutritional epidemiology to examine associations between dietary patterns and health. Several epidemiological studies show that people following the Mediterranean style diet or the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet have lower risk of CHD and lower likelihood of developing hypertension. Studies using empirical or data driven dietary patterns have frequently identified two patterns - "Healthy or Prudent" and "Western". In general, the "Healthy", compared to the "Western" pattern has been associated with more favorable biological profiles, slower progression of atherosclerosis, and reduced incidence. Evidence on changes in dietary patterns and changes in CHD risk is still emerging. With the emergence of the concept of personalized nutrition, studies are increasingly considering the role of genetic factors in the modulation of the association between nutrients and CHD. More studies of genetic variation and dietary patterns in relation to CHD are needed.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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