heart health

Studies Examine Diet, Heart Health

As Americans focus on heart health — and seek ways to take increased personal control over their heart health — two areas that continue to stand out are diet and exercise. And for good reason.

We noted the MedPage Today report that stated: “Metabolically healthy obese women — that is, those without diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol — had a nearly 40% increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease compared with metabolically healthy women of normal weight, said researchers led by Nathalie Eckel, MSc, of the German Center for Diabetes Research in Neuherberg.”

We also highlighted the role for exercise via a MedPage post notes that “Exercise May Outrun Strong Family Risk for Heart Disease; Cardio fitness associated with lower heart disease, AF risk.”

The post is based on a study published in Circulation titled “Associations of Fitness, Physical Activity, Strength, and Genetic Risk With Cardiovascular Disease: Longitudinal Analyses in the UK Biobank Study.”

The authors write: “Observational studies have shown inverse associations among fitness, physical activity, and cardiovascular disease. However, little is known about these associations in individuals with elevated genetic susceptibility for these diseases.”

Other studies show the benefits of a healthy diet.

For example, the Spanish Mediterranean diet was examined in and the New England Journal of Medicine. As MedPage states: “The Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts reduced stroke by 46% over 5 years.”

In addition, “in the Seven Countries Study, the coronary risk on Crete was one-fifteenth what it was in Finland, where people eat more like North Americans, and only 40% of the risk in Japan, where only 10% of calories were from fat.”

Lastly, “a very important study conducted in Israel by Iris Shai, RD, PhD, and colleagues compared the Mediterranean diet against both a low-carb diet, similar to the Atkins Diet, and a low-fat diet. Weight loss was equal on the low-carb and Mediterranean diets, and both were significantly better than the low-fat diet. More importantly, the Mediterranean diet was clearly superior in reducing blood sugar, fasting insulin levels, and insulin resistance among diabetics. It is clearly the best diet for diabetes.”

For a well-run workplace wellness program, the opportunities exist to engage employees with health knowledge about diet, fitness, and their health.