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Tuesday, 2 August 2011

New ideas on diet and cardiovascular health?

What foods may actively help to promote the health of the heart, brain and circulation? And for people who have cardiovascular risk factors, heart disease or stroke syndromes, are there dietary factors that can reduce disease severity or prevent recurrent disease?

To address these and related questions outlined below, the CVRT organised an afternoon symposium on the 'Cardiovascular effects of ‘Healthy’ foods in London on Thursday 8th December, at the Medical Society of London rooms - 11 Chandos Street - 5 minutes walk from Oxford Circus. The symposium considered evidence and mechanisms for cardiovascular benefits (or not) of ‘healthy’ foods. A key message from KT Khaw was that healthy lifestyle actions are cumulative in protecting against serious disorders of the heart and circulation.

See weblink for the programme.

Too many calories, and high intake of saturated and transfats, are well recognised to increase risk of obesity, diabetes mellitus and accelerated vascular disease (atheroma) and low salt (sodium chloride) and potassium rich foods to confer cardiovascular protection.

Outstanding questions include whether particular types of macro-nutrient (protein, carbohydrate and fats) or micronutrients (vitamins, flavenoids, trace minerals) are protective. An association between dietary factor(s) and apparent cardiovascular benefit may be causative, due to 'reverse causation' [e.g. because healthier people believe in the link or are more likely to be able to afford particular dietary constituents]; or may be a coincidental association.

Speakers at the Symposium included Professor Roger Corder from the William Harvey Institute in London, Professor KT Khaw from the University of Cambridge and Associate Professor Naila Rabbani from the University of Warwick. KT Khaw  discussed current controversies, Naila Rabbani  bioactives in fruit and vegetables, and Roger Corder dietary polyphenols and potential vascular benefits of red wine and chocolate. And Jinit Masania outlined a new EU research programme, applying nutrigenomics to assess health claims made for foods.


See also Dr Carolyn Staton’s excellent blog on 'Food and microcirculation' on the British Microcirculation Society site. 

© DRJ Singer

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