Many health experts recommend diets and vitamins to protect against developing heart disease. But, is this necessarily so? A recent study analyzed the data from 277 randomized controlled trials that had involved almost 1 million participants between them.
They looked at the effects of 16 nutritional supplements and eight dietary interventions on cardiovascular health and mortality.
Some of the supplements they analyzed were: selenium, multivitamins, iron, folic acid, calcium, vitamin D, antioxidants, and a variety of vitamins.
The dietary interventions included: reduced salt, reduced saturated fat, the Mediterranean diet and taking omega-3.
Diets: Study Results
The study results show that some interventions work to protect your heart, others don’t. For instance, eating less salt may reduce the risk of premature death in people with a normal blood pressure, although only with moderate certainty.
Moreover, they concluded that omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids protected against heart attacks and coronary heart disease. Also, there was an association between folic acid intake and a slightly lower risk of stroke.
At the same time, however, other supplements and interventions seemed to either have no effect or can actually be harmful.
For example, multivitamins, vitamin A, B-6, C, vitamin D, E, calcium and folic acid, did not protect against cardiovascular disease and early death.
Surprisingly, They also found that the recommended Mediterranean diet, which reduces saturated fat, and increases omega-3 and 6, were not beneficial.
In fact, people who took calcium and vitamin D supplements together actually had a higher risk of experiencing a stroke.
One factor that needs to be better controlled in future studies are several variables such as differences in geography, dose, and preparation. Currently, most studies rely on food diaries, which are based on a person’s memory of what they consumed. This can be a problem, as it raises questions about the accuracy of the responses.