HEALTH SNIP­PETS Shift fo­cus from calo­rie count­ing to nu­tri­tional value for heart health, say ex­perts

Consumer Voice - - In The News -

It’s time to stop count­ing the calo­ries, and in­stead start pro­mot­ing the nu­tri­tional value of foods if we are to rapidly cut ill­ness and death from car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and curb the ris­ing tide of obe­sity, say ex­perts in an ed­i­to­rial pub­lished in the on­line jour­nal Open Heart.

Draw­ing on pub­lished ev­i­dence, doc­tors Aseem Malhotra and James DiNi­colan­to­nio and Pro­fes­sor Si­mon Capewell ar­gue that sim­ple di­etary changes – rather like stop­ping smok­ing – can rapidly im­prove health out­comes at the pop­u­la­tion level. For ex­am­ple, boost­ing omega 3 fatty acid (from fatty fish), olive oil and nut in­take have all been as­so­ci­ated with re­duc­tions in deaths from all causes and from car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, within months.

Daily consumption of a sug­ary drink (150 calo­ries) is as­so­ci­ated with a sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased risk of type 2 diabetes, whereas daily consumption of a hand­ful of nuts (30 g of wal­nuts, 15 g of al­monds and 15 g hazel­nuts) or four ta­ble­spoons of ex­tra vir­gin olive oil (around 500 calo­ries) is as­so­ci­ated with a sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced risk of heart at­tack and stroke.

“Shift­ing the fo­cus away from calo­ries and em­pha­sis­ing a di­etary pat­tern that fo­cuses on food qual­ity rather than quan­tity will help to rapidly re­duce obe­sity, re­lated diseases, and car­dio­vas­cu­lar risk,” the re­search team state. “Pri­mary and sec­ondary care clin­i­cians have a duty to their in­di­vid­ual pa­tients and also to their lo­cal pop­u­la­tions. Our col­lec­tive fail­ure to act is an op­tion we can­not af­ford.”

The ev­i­dence shows that poor diet is con­sis­tently re­spon­si­ble for more dis­ease and death than phys­i­cal in­ac­tiv­ity, smok­ing and al­co­hol put to­gether, they say, call­ing for sug­ary drinks to be taxed, gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies to make fruit, veg­eta­bles and nuts more af­ford­able, and tighter con­trols on the mar­ket­ing of junk food.

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