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We all know that eating well is important for health. But did you know that your diet affects your risk factor for cardiovascular disease for years to come?

A recent study conducted in the UK showed that men who ate certain diets were far more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease. The study looked at British men, aged 60-79. After assessing their diets, they followed them for 11 years, noting any cardiovascular disease or death that occurred.

Three main dietary patterns were found. The men who ate a high fat, low fibre diet – including lots of red meat, processed meat, white bread, and fried potatoes – were at the greatest risk. These men experienced a higher rate of death of any cause over a period of 11 years.

Men who ate a higher sugar diet, including biscuits, puddings, chocolates, sweets and breakfast cereals, had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

The third group, who consumed poultry, fish, fruits, vegetables, legumes, wholemeal products and olive oil, showed no association with heart disease or mortality.

The researchers concluded that low fibre is associated with higher risk of mortality, and high fibre intake may be protective. The research also supported the link between high sugar consumption and cardiovascular disease. Overall, the findings supported what we already know – diet can make a big impact on health, including heart health.

Heart disease remains one of the biggest killers today in the UK. In fact, it's responsible for more than ¼ of all deaths. More than 160,000 deaths each year in the UK are due to cardiovascular disease.

1 in 6 men and 1 in 10 women die from CHD, the most common form of cardiovascular disease. It's believed there are about 7 million people living with cardiovascular disease in the UK today.

But cardiovascular disease is a lifestyle disease that can be prevented in most cases. One of the most powerful tools is a healthy diet. So how can you keep your heart, and body, healthier for longer:

  • Avoid processed foods, including white flour products, deli meats and takeaway foods.
  • Avoid excess refined sugar consumption.
  • Watch out for sneaky high sugar foods, such as fruit juices, smoothies, sweetened yoghurt and muesli bars.
  • If you have a sweet craving, reach for fresh fruit instead of the sweets jar.
  • Focus your diet on heart-healthy fats like avocado and olive oil, fruits and vegetables, legumes, fatty fish and high-quality proteins like eggs. 
  • If you consume grains, choose wholemeal products.
  • Eat plenty of fresh whole-foods on a daily basis.

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