How does diet affect cardiovascular risk factors?

how diet affects your risk of heart disease and cardiovascular health

The nation’s leading cause of death

Despite all of the advances in medical research in recent decades to tackle heart disease, cardiovascular disease remains the nation’s leading cause of death. Every 34 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack and every 40 seconds, a person in the United States dies of heart disease.

Cardiovascular disease (which encompasses Heart Disease, Stroke, and other Cardiovascular Diseases) is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing more people than all forms of cancer combined. The most common type of heart disease, coronary heart disease, kills roughly 380,000 people each year.

Heart disease costs more than $320.1 billion in direct and indirect expenditures. This includes medical expenses as well as missed productivity.

There are six women who die from heart disease for every one woman who dies of breast cancer but only one in every five American women believes that heart disease is the most serious threat to her health. Since 1984, women have died from heart disease at a higher rate than men.

A growing number of experts recognize that diet plays an important role in health and that dietary modifications can have a significant impact on illness development and progression. However, modern medical practice places minimal emphasis on primary and secondary prevention for a variety of reasons. Nutrition is not a topic that most doctors are interested in. It isn’t a required part of medical school; each generation of medical students learns about a new set of medicines and procedures, but receives very no instruction in illness prevention. Doctors have little time with their patients and are not compensated for educating them about the benefits of leading truly healthy lives.

What are cardiovascular disease risk factors?

A person’s risk of acquiring cardiovascular disease is increased by certain habits, behaviors, circumstances, or conditions, such as lack of exercise, poor eating, smoking, diabetes, age, and family history.

The more risk factors you have, the more likely you are to develop cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular disease is more likely to strike the elderly. Although the aging process cannot be stopped, adopting a generally healthy lifestyle can assist to lower the risk of having heart and circulation problems.

Coronary heart disease, stroke, heart attack, and aortic disease are all examples of cardiovascular disease, which is a broad umbrella term that encompasses all illnesses affecting the heart and circulatory system.

Cardiovascular disease risk factors can be divided into two categories: Modifiable and non-modifiable. Non-modifiable risk factors include, among other things, a person’s age, race, and family background (genetics cannot be modified). Risk factors for cardiovascular disease that can be lowered or controlled by changing one’s behavior are known as modifiable risk factors. People can reduce their odds of having cardiovascular disease by making specific lifestyle modifications. Smoking, diet, and exercise are only a few examples.

The key modifiable risk factors that can be changed are listed below.

High Blood Pressure

One of the most important risk factors for cardiovascular disease is high blood pressure (hypertension). Blood vessels might be damaged if your blood pressure is too high. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is another cause in cardiovascular illness, including heart failure, stroke, and heart attack. High blood pressure is generally symptomless, but it can be detected by a doctor with a simple test.

Obesity, physical inactivity, a high salt or alcohol intake, or a family history of the illness are all common causes of high blood pressure, but it can also occur for no apparent reason. Changes in diet and lifestyle may assist to lower blood pressure, and medication may be administered in extreme situations.


Tobacco use, such as smoking and chewing, is also a substantial risk factor. Tobacco’s toxic chemicals can damage and constrict your blood vessels. Smoking destroys and narrows the arteries, increasing the risk of angina pectoris and heart attack. Angina pectoris is a condition that causes pain or discomfort in the center of the chest due to a lack of blood supply to the heart muscle. Nicotine also causes the heart to beat quicker and blood pressure to rise, making the heart work harder to pump blood throughout the body.

High Cholesterol.

Cholesterol is a kind of lipid found in the bloodstream. High cholesterol can cause your blood arteries to narrow, increasing your chances of having a blood clot.

High levels of LDL cholesterol, generally known as “bad cholesterol,” have been linked to a variety of cardiovascular illnesses. Cholesterol is a fatty molecule that proteins transport throughout the body. If there is too much LDL cholesterol in the blood, fatty substances can build up in the artery walls, causing difficulties.

Learn more how to lower high cholesterol naturally.


You’re more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and be overweight if you don’t exercise consistently. All of them are CVD risk factors.
Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Being overweight, having high blood pressure, and developing other problems that make cardiovascular disease more likely increases a person’s chances of being overweight, having high blood pressure, and developing other conditions that make cardiovascular disease more likely.

Adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate to high-intensity exercise every week to get significant health advantages, according to experts. If this isn’t possible, any amount of physical activity is better than none at all.

Regular exercise is beneficial to your heart’s health. Exercise, when combined with a balanced diet, can assist you in maintaining a healthy weight.

Obesity or being overweight

Being overweight or obese raises your chances of getting diabetes and high blood pressure, both of which are CVD risk factors.

Another major risk factor for cardiovascular disease is being overweight. Being overweight is characterized as having a body mass index (BMI) that is outside the normal range. Eating an unhealthy diet and being physically sedentary are both significant causes.

You are at a higher risk of CVD if your BMI is 25 or higher. You have a waist measurement of 94cm (about 37 inches) or greater for a man, or 80cm (about 31.5 inches) for a woman.

The importance of diet in cardiovascular disease

A poor diet is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Unhealthy eating habits can lead to elevated cholesterol and blood pressure. To reduce the risk, eat a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, complex carbs, and protein, while avoiding excess fats, salts, and sugars.

Only about 1% of persons in the United States fulfill the American Heart Association’s criteria of a “ideal healthy diet.” Over 159 million adults in the United States are overweight or obese, accounting for over 69 percent of the population.

The importance of diet in the development and prevention of cardiovascular disease cannot be overstated. Diet is one of the most important things you can do to affect all other cardiovascular risk variables. When a low-saturated-fat diet with abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables is compared to the normal diet of someone living in the developed world, the former results in a 73 percent lower risk of new major cardiac events.

Abnormal blood lipid (fat) levels show a substantial link to the risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack, and coronary death, according to research. As a result, aberrant blood lipids are linked to the foods you eat. A diet high in saturated fats (such as fatty meats and cheese) and trans fats (often found in cakes, pastries, and fast food) causes elevated cholesterol in most people.

Cholesterol would not collect in the wall of the blood vessel and cause heart disease and strokes if inflammation was not present in the body. Cholesterol would circulate freely throughout the body if inflammation didn’t exist. Cholesterol becomes trapped as a result of inflammation.

Chronic inflammation occurs when the body is repeatedly injured by chemicals or nutrients that the human body was never built to process. As it turns out, chronic inflammation can be just as dangerous as acute inflammation.

What are the most common causes of chronic inflammation?

Overconsumption of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, wheat, and any items manufactured from them), as well as omega-6 vegetable oils found in many processed foods such as soybean, corn, and sunflower, as well as saturated fats. Excess sugar molecules bind to a number of proteins, causing damage to blood vessel walls. Inflammation is caused by repeated injuries to the blood vessel wall. When your blood sugar levels surge multiple times a day, every day, it’s like sandpapering the insides of your delicate blood vessels.

We consume far too many heart-damaging meals and far too few heart-protecting foods. Around 20% of all cardiovascular disease is caused by a lack of fruits and vegetables. Components found in fruits and vegetables protect against heart disease and stroke.

Can lifestyle changes help lower heart disease risk?

Integrative lifestyle modifications and improved food habits can help to treat chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, and prostate cancer, as well as affect gene expression by activating health-promoting genes and suppressing disease-promoting genes. In fact, a 2014 study published in CMAJ showed that those who eat a Mediterranean diet also have decreased belly fat, while belly fat is known to increase heart disease risk.

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and soy products in their natural, unrefined forms should be abundant in a diet aimed at preventing and reversing heart disease. Total fat and refined carbohydrates such as sugar, white flour, white rice, and sugar-sweetened beverages should be avoided. The diet should also be free of refined foods and highly processed meals.