media release

These six healthy foods can reduce your cardiovascular disease risk, according to new research

July 07, 2023

Researchers have found that not eating enough of six key foods is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in adults. Their research—which analyzed study data on the diet behaviours of nearly 250,000 people from 80 countries—suggests a heart-healthy diet should include servings of fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, fish and whole-fat dairy.

The researchers determined that a 20 per cent improvement in diet quality—an achievable goal for those living in high, low and middle-income countries—is associated with an eight per cent reduction in deaths and six per cent reduction in CVD. 

“We found that a diet rich in these foods can lower your risk of CVD, including heart attacks and strokes,” says Simon Fraser University health sciences professor Scott Lear, one of several global researchers whose co-authored paper is published this week in the European Heart Journal. “Whole grains or unprocessed red meat or poultry can also be consumed in moderation as part of a healthy diet - with up to one serving daily.”

The team derived a diet score from the global Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiological (PURE) study, led by the Population Health and Research Institute (PHRI) and applied it to five independent studies measuring health outcomes around the world in people with or without CVD. 

Lear, who is also a Pfizer/Heart & Stroke Foundation Chair in Cardiovascular Prevention Research, says the study is a good reminder to avoid ultra-processed foods where possible.

“We know that diet plays an important role in maintaining heart health along with exercise and adequate sleep. Next time you are at the grocery store consider choosing natural food options over ultra-processed foods. Your heart will thank you for it.” 


SCOTT LEAR, professor, health sciences                                 


MELISSA SHAW, SFU  Communications & Marketing 
236.880.3297 | 

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