Diet appears to alter heart failure risk

Each serving of whole-grains may lessen heart failure risk by 7 percent among middle-aged African-American and white men and women, according to findings from a long-term study.

Conversely, each serving of high-fat dairy and egg appear to increase heart failure risk by 8 and 23 percent, respectively, Dr. Jennifer A. Nettleton, of the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston, and colleagues found.

“A refined grain here, a full fat yogurt there, and the occasional egg aren’t going to result in heart failure, but a continued pattern of such behaviors could,” Nettleton told Reuters Health.

Heart failure is a chronic disease in which the heart gradually loses its ability to pump blood efficiently, leaving organs starved for oxygen.

On 3 occasions over the 13-year study, Nettleton’s group assessed the dietary intake of 14,153 adults, aged 45 to 64 years, who did not have heart failure in 1987 when the study began. About half the participants were women and a quarter were African-American,

Overall, 1,140 of the participants were hospitalized for heart failure during the study period, the researchers report in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

After accounting for factors that impact heart failure risk such as calorie intake, lifestyle, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high blood, the researchers found lower heart failure risk associated with greater intake of whole grains, and higher risk associated with greater amounts of eggs and high fat dairy.

The associations held independently of intake of red meat, fruits and vegetables, fish, and nuts. In this study these foods showed no association with heart failure risk likely because there were too few heart failure cases to detect the heart benefits previously linked with eating fish, fruit and vegetables, and nuts, Nettleton said.

However, findings from the current study are consistent with current dietary recommendations to minimize saturated fat intake from meat and high fat dairy products, and eat at least 3 whole grains each day, Nettleton said.

SOURCE: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, November 2008

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