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NMU – 181 Anti-inflammatory Diet Lowers Heart Disease Risk

Nutrition/Natural Medicine Update No 181 (November 12, 2020)

with Dr. James Meschino


Topic: Anti-inflammatory Diet Lowers Heart Disease Risk

Source: Journal of the American College of Cardiology (Nov. 2020)


A large study published in the journal of the American College of Cardiology in November 2020 that followed 210,000 individuals for over 32 years has shown that those who regularly consume an anti-inflammatory diet had a 46% lower risk of developing heart disease and 28% lower risk of having a stroke. As the researchers stated, chronic inflammation has been shown to play an important role in the development of heart disease and stroke. Certain inflammatory biomarkers, such as interleukins, chemokines and adhesion molecules, have been associated with early and late stages of atherosclerosis. In this study, researchers compared dietary behaviors of over 200,000 individuals with their blood markers for inflammation and tracked their health events regarding heart attack, other heart problems (like angina) as well as stroke. The evidence was clear that those who regularly consumed inflammation-promoting foods had higher inflammatory markers in their blood and had a substantially higher risk of heart disease and stroke.

So, what foods increase inflammation in the blood vessel wall and throughout the body in general? The researchers indicated the most common offenders included:

  • Red meat – all-beef products
  • Processed meats
  • Organ meats
  • Refined sugars and refined grains (white bread, sugary breakfast cereals as an example)
  • Fried foods
  • Sugary soft drinks

The researchers indicated that the foods that help to decrease inflammation included foods with higher levels of antioxidants and fiber, including:

  • Green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, cabbage, arugula)
  • Yellow vegetables (pumpkin, yellow peppers, beans, carrots)
  • Whole grains
  • Coffee, tea, and wine.

The researchers also reported on another study, which assessed how incorporating walnuts into an individual’s usual diet might improve inflammatory biomarkers. Previous studies have found that regular nut consumption is associated with lower heart disease risk and lower overall cholesterol; however, there has been limited research linking nut consumption with less inflammation in the body.  In this study, a total of 634 participants were assigned to either a diet without walnuts or a diet that included 30-60 grams of walnuts per day. After a follow-up period of two years, those who ate a diet that included walnuts showed significantly reduced levels of inflammation in their blood in 6 out of 10 inflammatory biomarkers tested As eloquently stated by Dr. Ramon Estruch, MD, Ph.D., senior consultant in the department of internal medicine at Hospital Clinic in Barcelona, Spain, “when choosing foods in our diet, we should indeed beware of their pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory potential!”

We are all aware that high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking are cardinal risk factors for cardiovascular disease, but studies like these suggests strongly that inflammation within the blood vessel wall as well as blood stickiness are also important risk factors. As such, regular consumption of pro-inflammatory foods appears to be an independent risk factor for heart disease and stroke and that the regular consumption of anti-inflammatory foods can lower inflammatory markers in the bloodstream, helping to reduce our risk of these important and life-threatening cardiovascular diseases.

I have included the reference for this information in the text below.


Jun Li, Dong Hoon Lee, Jie Hu, Fred K. Tabung, Yanping Li, Shilpa N. Bhupathiraju, Eric B. Rimm, Kathryn M. Rexrode, JoAnn E. Manson, Walter C. Willett, Edward L. Giovannucci, Frank B. Hu. Dietary Inflammatory Potential and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Among Men and Women in the U.S.. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2020; 76 (19): 2181


Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

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