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Am J Clin Nutr. 1995 Jun;61(6 Suppl):1351S-1359S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/61.6.1351S.

How could changes in diet explain changes in coronary heart disease mortality in Spain? The Spanish paradox.

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Department of Public Health, University of Barcelona, Spain.


We review and compare trends in coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke mortality in Spain from 1966 to 1990 and changes in food consumption at national and regional levels. Since 1976, a decrease in cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality in males and females has been observed, and standardized CHD mortality rates have fallen. Stroke mortality decreased during the same period. Trends in food consumption show increases in intakes of meat, dairy products, fish, and fruit, but decreases in consumption of olive oil, sugar, and all foods rich in carbohydrates. Although fat and saturated fat intakes increased, these changes were not accompanied by an increase in CHD mortality rates. This paradoxical situation can be explained by expanded access to clinical care, increased consumption of fruit and fish, improved control of hypertension, and a reduction in cigarette smoking. Diet appears to have an important role in this paradox, but it may not be as critical as other factors. Nevertheless, we suggest dietary guidelines for prevention of CHD in Spain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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