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Western Diet Boosts Global Heart Attack Risk 30%

But study also finds 'Oriental' pattern little benefit either way because of salty sauces

MONDAY, Oct. 20 (HealthDay News) -- The fried foods, salty snacks and meats that are staples of the Western diet account for about 30 percent of heart attack risk across the world, a new report suggests.

Meanwhile, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, the so-called "Prudent" diet, is tied a low risk of heart attack, according to the study, published in the Oct. 21 issue of Circulation.

The research, which looked at dietary habits in 52 countries, found people who ate a Western diet had a 35 percent greater risk of having a heart attack compared to those who ate little or no fried foods and meat. Those who followed a "Prudent" diet had a 30 percent lower risk of heart attack compared to those who went light on fruits and vegetables.

The authors also looked at an "Oriental" diet, rich in tofu, soy and other sauces, and found it did not increase or decrease the risk of a heart attack.

Previous studies have reached similar conclusions about the "Prudent" and Western diet in the United States and Europe, but did not include the Oriental pattern of eating. While some components of the Oriental diet may protect against heart trouble, the higher sodium content of sauces counter that benefit.

"This study indicates that the same relationships that are observed in Western countries exist in different regions of the world," study senior author Salim Yusuf, a professor of medicine at McMaster University and director of the Population Health Research Institute at Hamilton Health Sciences in Ontario, said in an American Heart Association news release.

The Canadian researchers analyzed risk factors in food choices and the risk of heart attack in about 16,000 people in 52 countries. Almost 6,000 people had heart attacks, while the rest had no known heart disease.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about heart-healthy eating.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Oct. 20, 2008

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