Do Diets And Supplements Really Protect Heart Health?

Laverne Higgins
July 10, 2019

Current US dietary guidelines recommend several healthy eating patterns, including Mediterranean and vegetarian diets, but they do not recommend routine supplement use to reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease or other chronic diseases.

The evidence review analyzed 16 supplements and eight dietary interventions (such as reduced-saturated-fat diets) from 277 trials of almost 1 million people but called for further research on the issue.

Now, a new analysis suggests that many diets and supplements may not really protect the heart and some may even damage cardiovascular health.

The research did find that omega-3 fatty acids - commonly found in fish oil - reduced the risk of heart attacks and coronary heart disease.

"These tests are grossly overused, with limited utility in select patients", he said.

Other supplements namely selenium, vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin C, iron, and vitamin A, among others, show no significant effect on heart health.

Some supplements may even cause potential harm.

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But, calcium plus vitamin d intake was linked to an increased risk for stroke.

Dietary supplements are popular among much of the urban populace of the world. That's because there's a little body of knowledge and high-quality evidence that diets are really heart-healthy.

Most of the vitamins, minerals, supplements and diets didn't protect against heart attack or stroke or reduce the risk of death from heart-related causes, researchers report in Annals of Internal Medicine.

The dietary interventions included: modified dietary fat, reduced salt (in people with normal and high blood pressure), reduced saturated fat, Mediterranean diet, reduced dietary fat, higher intake of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and higher intake of omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid. People with hypertension are already at risk for various cardiovascular events. Reduced salt intake seems to lower blood pressure, according to a 2013 review, and "the science behind sodium reduction is clear", according to the American Heart Association. "This is something that can be backed up with logic because there is a sufficient amount of data, in various studies, that shows low salt intake basically improves hypertension, which directly influences the cardiovascular outcome".

The findings were unsurprising, said Susan Jebb, a professor of diet and population health at the University of Oxford.

That method may not be the best way to study diet and heart disease, according to Lee. "Do not waste your money on these over-the-counter multivitamins and nutritional supplements, because if you are using them with the belief that they are going to reduce your mortality or improve your cardiovascular health, they don't".

The researchers hope that the study findings urge further investigation on the intake of nutritional supplements and the practice of certain dietary interventions, especially for those who are at risk for heart disease and stroke.

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