According to a recent post in the Open Heart online journal, nutritional recommendations are shifting from counting calories to promoting nutritional values in food. The approach is part of a new paradigm to improve patient outcomes in cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and decrease obesity incidence.
Based on recently published scientific results, Dr. Aseem Malhotra, James DiNicolantonia and Professor Simon Capewell highlight that by making simple adjustments in a population’s diet, it is possible to improve the public’s health outcomes when it comes to obesity and cardiovascular disease. A good example is the reduction in the numbers of deadly CVD cases simply through the increase of the ingestion of omega 3 fatty acid, olive oil and nut consumption. Another example is the regular consumption of nuts (hazelnuts, almonds or walnuts) or four tablespoons of olive oil daily, which is associated with a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke. On the other hand, the daily ingestion of sugary drinks is proven to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
In fact, it was estimated that introducing two servings of nuts per week could lead to around 90,000 avoided deaths from CVDs in the US alone.
These new efforts involve efforts to curtail diabetes as well. The Action for Health in Diabetes is a research group that has led trial investigations concerning type 2 diabetes. Some of the 13.5-year studies’ findings have shown that low calorie diets combined with increased physical activity in type 2 diabetics do not reduce the risk of a cardiovascular death, despite the significant weight loss. This clearly suggests that it is not about the reduction of calories themselves, but the nutrients that one’s diet includes as well. The Action for Health in Diabetes underline that focusing “on food quality rather than quantity will help to rapidly reduce obesity, related diseases, and cardiovascular risk.” Moreover, evidence has shown that poor diets are consistently the origin of higher number of diseases and deaths than physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol combined.
“It is time to stop counting calories, and time to instead promote good nutrition and dietary changes that can rapidly and substantially reduce cardiovascular mortality. The evidence indeed supports the mantra that ‘food can be the most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison’,” they note.
In the UK, obesity costs the NHS over £5 billion a year, while the costs of type 2 diabetes add up to more than £20 billion and are predicted to double over the next 20 years. Now, government subsidies are trying to promote fruits, vegetables and nuts in order to make them more affordable for the population. On top of this, it is predicted that the implementation of a tighter control within the marketing channels of junk food could also have a net positive impact on obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. “Applying these population wide policies might achieve rapid reductions in disease and hospital admissions visible even within the electoral terms of most politicians,” the Action for Health in Diabetes conclude.