If everyone in the world changed just three elements of what they eat we could avoid 5 million cardiovascular disease (CVD) deaths per year (1). That’s more than the total population of the Republic of Ireland (2). CVD is the world's biggest killer of men and women (3) and the heart disease that causes the majority of these deaths (4), can be tamed by lifestyle changes.
We have the power to reduce our risk by 81-94%, drugs; a measly 30% (5-9). That means you have control over your future. We have three votes every day to decide if we want to live a potentially shorter life full of illness, or live stronger, for longer. These votes are our breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Diet is the cornerstone of disease prevention. The food we put in our bodies are the only building blocks we have for maintenance, growth and protection. We want to show you how pivotal diet is, and how it can help you to live a life where you are around to see your children grow and maybe live long enough to meet your grandkids.
If you do nothing else than change the following 3 elements in your life you will be onto a winner. These are the top 3 reasons that account for a whopping half of the 10 million diet-related CVD deaths (1). They are:
Too much sodium (salt)
Too few whole grains
Too few fruits
If that is all you change, keeping everything else the same, then it will have the biggest impact for the least change. I know what you’re thinking, okay great, well what are the optimal levels?
Adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day (2.4g sodium) – that's around 1 teaspoon (10).
125 g (100–150) of whole grains per day
3 portions of any type of fruit (200-300g) not including juice
That is the power of diet, just three factors which are responsible for more than 50% of the diet-related CVD deaths (1). Being a mainly lifestyle-driven ailment, we can reduce the 10 million CVD deaths caused by poor diet and start taking back control of our lives. Diet is the cornerstone of this change and it is never too late to make progress with improvements in the building blocks of our diet.
What you do with this information is up to you, but know that there is no change too small as even improving one of the above mentioned 3 points is progress. Progress is what leads us to live stronger for longer. Giving us the best chance of living a life free of disease. A life where we get to be there for our kids and even meet our grandchildren.
In no way is this information meant to replace the advice given by your doctor, always follow the advice of your health professional. Inform your doctor if you are making any large changes to your lifestyle.
As always, don't just take our word for it, have a read through some of the evidence we use which is all referenced below.
1) Afshin, A., Sur, P.J., Fay, K.A., Cornaby, L., Ferrara, G., Salama, J.S., Mullany, E.C., Abate, K.H., Abbafati, C., Abebe, Z. and Afarideh, M., 2019. Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990–2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. The Lancet, 393(10184), pp.1958-1972.
2) United Nations Population Division. World Population Prospects: 2019 Revision. Available at: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.TOTL?locations=IE [accessed 02.08.2020].
3)BHF analysis of latest UK mortality statistics: ONS/NRS/NISRA (2018 data) https://www.bhf.org.uk/what-we-do/our-research/heart-statistics [accessed 18/06/2020]
4)World Health Organization, 2018, http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/the-top-10-causes-of-death
5)Yusuf S, Hawken S, Ounpuu S, et al. Effect of potentially modifiable risk factors associated with myocardial infarction in 52 countries (the INTERHEART study): case control study. Lancet 2004;364(9438):937–52.
6) Ford ES, Bergmann MM, Kröger J, Schienkiewitz A, Weikert C, Boeing H. Healthy living is the best revenge: findings from the European Prospective Investig.
7) Chiuve SE, McCullough ML, Sacks FM, Rimm EB. Healthy lifestyle factors in the primary prevention of coronary heart disease among men: benefits among users and nonusers of lipid-lowering and antihypertensive medications. Circulation 2006;114(2):160-7
8) Stampfer MJ, Hu FB, Manson JE, et al. Primary prevention of coronary heart disease in women through diet and lifestyle. N Engl J Med 2000; 343: 16–22.
9) Chiuve, S.E., Rexrode, K.M., Spiegelman, D., Logroscino, G., Manson, J.E. and Rimm, E.B., 2008. Primary prevention of stroke by healthy lifestyle. Circulation, 118(9), p.947.
10) NHS. Salt: The Facts, Eat Well. 2020. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/salt-nutrition/ [Accessed 02.08.2020].