Components Implicated in Benefits
Possible Cardiometabolic Benefits
Fruits and vegetables
Antioxidant vitamins, potassium, magnesium, fiber, phytochemicals
Improvements in blood pressure, lipid levels, insulin resistance, weight control
Lower incidence of CHD
Lower incidence of stroke (fruit)
Benefits are not replicated with equivalent amounts of mineral or fiber supplements.
B vitamins, vitamin E, fiber, folate, minerals, phytochemicals, polyunsaturated fatty acids
Improvements in glucose-insulin homeostasis; may reduce inflammation and promote weight loss
Whole-grain oats decrease LDL cholesterol without lowering HDL-C
Higher fiber content contributes to the lower incidence of CHD, diabetes, and possibly stroke from whole grains; the effect of whole grains is not replicated from equivalent amounts of supplemental fiber bran, or isolated micronutrients.
Specific proteins, unsaturated fats, vitamin D, selenium, omega-3 fatty acids
In human trials, fish oil lowers triglyceride levels, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and resting heart rate.
May reduce inflammation and limit platelet aggregation
Lower incidence of CHD, ischemic stroke, cardiac death
Unsaturated fatty acids, vegetable proteins, fiber, folate, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals
Lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and postprandial hyperglycemia from high-carbohydrate meals
When added to weight loss diets, weight loss is either unchanged or greater.
Lower incidence of CHD
It is not known which constituents of dairy products offer cardiometabolic benefits; possibly specific fatty acids, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients
May improve satiety and weight loss
May contribute to improvements in blood pressure, lipid levels, and insulin resistance regardless of changes in weight
Lower risk of stroke and diabetes
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), monounsaturated fatty acids, plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids
Improvements in blood lipids and lipoproteins and lower CVD events when PUFAs replace saturated fatty acids
Monounsaturated fats from vegetable oils (e.g., olive oil) may lower CVD risk.
Micronutrients, phytochemicals, fiber
Nutrient package may reduce cardiometabolic risk.
CHD, chronic heart disease; LDL, low-density lipoprotein; HDL-C, high-density lipoprotein; CVD, cardiovascular disease.
Source: Mozaffarian, D., Appel, L., & Van Horn, L. (2011). Components of a cardioprotective diet: New insights. Circulation, 123, 2870-2891.