DiabetesHealthHeart DiseaseNutritionStroke

10 foods linked to higher risk of death

Bottom Line:

The researchers found that almost half of all deaths occurring due to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes could be linked to suboptimal eating habits consisting of:

HIGH INTAKE OF:

  1. Sodium (> 2 grams/day)
  2. Processed meats (>0 grams/day)
  3. Sugar-sweetened drinks (>0 grams/day)
  4. Unprocessed red meat (>14.3 grams/day)

LOW INTAKE OF:

  1. Nuts and seeds intake (< 20.2 grams/day)
  2. Omega-3-rich fats seafood. (<250 mg/day)
  3. Vegetables (<400 grams/day)
  4. Fruits (<300 grams/day)
  5. Whole grains (<125 grams/day)
  6. Polyunsaturated fats (<11% of energy/day)

Based on these data, a simple approach to a healthy lifestyle would be to simply:

  • Limit salt to no more than 2 grams per day. Avoid processed or pre-packaged foods which tend to be high in salt.
  • Avoid processed meats such as sausages, hot dogs, salami, bacon, ham, salted and cured meats, smoked meats, canned meats, beef jerky, and dried meats.
  • Avoid beverages with added sugar (and artificial sweeteners based on new studies). Water is still the best stuff on earth!
  • Limit red meat to just 3.5 ounces (100 grams) per week

In addition, it is incredibly important to increase intakes of the following foods:

  • Eat a handful of unsalted nuts and seeds daily or at least 1 ounce serving five days per week.
  • Aim for roughly 8 ounces of fish per week to get the equivalent of 250mg/day of EPA and DHA.
  • Try to get at least 2.5 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruits daily.
  • Add one cups of whole grains to your daily diet
  • Lastly, by adding nuts, fish, and flaxseeds to your diet, you will easily get the recommended intake of polyunsaturated fats (>11% of energy/day).

Why this matters:

Knowing what to eat is just as important as knowing what not to eat. This study highlights that simple changes to our everyday diets could play a significant role in our risk of dying from heart disease, diabetes or stroke.

Study Design:

The study used a comparative risk assessment model to look at data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (1999-2002 and 2009-2012), meta-analyses of prospective studies and clinical trials, and National Center for Health Statistics. The authors assessed intakes of 10 foods associated with cardiometabolic deaths (heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes).

Key findings:

  • 45.4% (318,656) of the 702,308 cardiometabolic deaths in the United States that occurred in 2012 were associated with suboptimal intakes of 10 foods.
  • Highest CARDIOMETABOLIC DEATHS were associated with:
    • High sodium (66,508 or 9.5%)
    • Low nuts/seeds (59,374 or 8.5%)
    • High processed meats (57,766 or 8.2%)
    • Low seafood omega-3 fats (54,626 or 7.8%)
    • Low vegetables (53,410 or 7.6%)
    • Low fruits (52,547 or 7.5%)
    • High sugar-sweetened beverages (51,694 or 7.4%)
  • Highest deaths due to HEART DISEASE were associated with:
    • Low nuts/seeds (54,591 or 14.7%)
    • Low seafood/omega-3 (54,626 or 14.7%)
    • High processed meats (45,637 or 12.3%)
    • High sugar-sweetened beverages (39,937 or 10.8%)
    • High sodium (37,744 or 10.2%)
  • Highest deaths due to STROKE were associated with:
    • Low vegetables (28,039 or 21.9%)
    • Low fruits (28,741 or 22.4%)
    • High sodium (13,787 or 10.7%)
  • Highest deaths due to HYPERTENSION:
    • High sodium (7505 or 21.4%)
  • Highest deaths due to TYPE 2 DIABETES:
    • High processed meats (11,900 or 17.5%)
    • Low whole grains (11,639 or 17.1%)
    • High sugar-sweetened beverages (10,043 or 14.8%)
  • Suboptimal food intakes were associated with greater deaths in:
    • Men than women
    • Young than older age
    • Blacks and Hispanics than whites
    • Low and medium education than high education

Limitations:

Although the data is very strong and consistent with other studies, it does not prove causality.  Also, the authors relied on self-reported recall that certainly introduces errors.  Lastly, the data points to ranges where intake of foods should be but the optimal intake level could be higher or lower.

Reference:

Micha R, Peñalvo JL, Cudhea F, et al. Association Between Dietary Factors and Mortality From Heart Disease, Stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes in the United States. JAMA. 7 March 2017. doi: 10.1001/jama.2017.0947

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