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Starchy snacks may increase CVD risk; fruits and veggies at certain meals decreases risk

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Starchy snacks may increase CVD risk; fruits and veggies at certain meals decreases risk

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Eating fruits with lunch, vegetables at dinner and a dairy snack in the evening was associated with a reduced risk of early death by cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all-cause mortality.  Eating a Western lunch (typically containing a high quantity of refined grains, cheese and cured meat) was associated with an elevated risk of CVD and all-cause mortalities in the same study.

Published: June 23, 2021

Source: American Heart Association

For the main meals, three main dietary patterns were identified for the morning meal: Western breakfast, starchy breakfast and fruit breakfast. Western lunch, vegetable lunch and fruit lunch were identified as the main dietary patterns for the mid-day meal. Western dinner, vegetable dinner and fruit dinner were identified as the main dietary patterns for the evening meal.

For snacks, grain snack, starchy snack, fruit snack and dairy snack were identified as the main snack patterns in between meals. The researchers noted that the Western dietary pattern has higher proportions of fat and protein, which is similar to many North American meals.

Participants in the Western lunch group consumed the most servings of refined grain, solid fats, cheese, added sugars and cured meat. Participants in the fruit-based lunch group consumed the most servings of whole grain, fruits, yoghurt and nuts. Participants in the vegetable-based dinner group consumed the most servings of dark vegetables, red and orange vegetables, tomatoes, other vegetables and legumes. Participants who consumed starchy snacks consumed the most servings of white potatoes.

According to their findings:

  • Eating a Western lunch (typically containing refined grains, cheese, cured meat) was associated with a 44% increased risk of CVD death;
  • Eating a fruit-based lunch was associated with a 34% reduced risk of CVD death;
  • Eating a vegetable-based dinner was associated with a 23% and 31% reduction in CVD and all-cause mortality, respectively; and
  • Consuming a snack high in starch after any meal was associated with a 50-52% increased risk of all-cause mortality and a 44-57% increased risk in CVD-related mortality.

The results revealed that the amount and the intake time of various types of foods are equally critical for maintaining optimal health. Future nutrition guidelines and interventional strategies could integrate optimal consumption times for foods across the day.


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Materials provided by American Heart Association. Content may be edited for style and length.

  1. Wei Wei, Wenbo Jiang, Jiaxin Huang, Jiaxu Xu, Xuanyang Wang, Xitao Jiang, Yu Wang, Guili Li, Changhao Sun, Ying Li, Tianshu Han. Association of Meal and Snack Patterns With Mortality of All‐Cause, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer: The US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2003 to 2014. Journal of the American Heart Association, 2021; DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.120.020254

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