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Diet rich in anti-inflammatory factors helps prevent heart attack

A diet that contains relatively large amounts of magnesium, turmeric, omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, red peppers, vitamin C and lots more things that websites - like 'ahem' us - like to write about reduces the amount of inflammatory factors in the body. We've written before about the fact that these anti-inflammatory factors may slow down the aging process and reduce the chance of developing cancer. According to a study that Swedish researchers published in Nutrition Journal, a diet with a low dietary inflammatory index also reduces the chance of a heart attack.

The researchers used data gathered for the Northern Sweden Health and Disease Study. This study has been running since the 1980s.

The researchers compared the inflammatory index of the diet of the 1389 participants who had had a heart attack during the time that the study had been running compared with that of the 5555 study participants who had not had a heart attack.


Among the men, the chance of having a heart attack increased by a factor of 1.57 if their diet had a high inflammatory index. For the women, dietary inflammatory index had no effect.

The figures below show the effect of smoking and the dietary inflammatory index [DII] on the likelihood of having a heart attack. For the men the dietary inflammatory index is a significant factor, but this effect is negligible compared with the risk from smoking. So if you smoke it's more sensible to stop that habit than to add lots of red pepper and turmeric to your diet.

Diet rich in anti-inflammatory factors helps prevent heart attack

Diet rich in anti-inflammatory factors helps prevent heart attack

"In this prospective, population-based study with long follow-up, a more pro-inflammatory diet [...] was associated with an increased risk of first myocardial infarction in men," the Swedes summarised. "These findings support inflammation as a link between diet and cardiovascular risk."

Minor grumble
We are not so sure whether a diet that is high in anti-inflammatory factors has no influence on the chance of women having a heart attack. In the period that the data was gathered for this study, doctors were often unaware of heart attacks in women, as the symptoms of a heart attack in women were not generally known.

It may be the case that if the study were carried out now that a link would be found in women too between heart attacks and dietary inflammatory index.

Nutr J. 2017 Apr 4;16(1):21.

The more inflammatory factors, the quicker death comes 17.11.2016
Delay aging with a diet rich in fish oil, curcumin, magnesium and other natural anti-inflammatories 05.10.2016
Low-inflammatory-index diet protects against cancer 07.06.2016

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