Cardiovascular disease is defined as a disease that affects any area of the cardiovascular system, including the heart and blood vessels, and covers a range of diseases such as arteriosclerosis, atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Diet plays a vital part in the prevention and control of these diseases however other manageable factors such as smoking and physical inactivity also contribute to the diseases if not controlled correctly. However corrective action or cession can reduce the risk of these conditions. There are two main types of cardiovascular diseases, arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis is where lipid deposits cause the walls of the arteries to harden and lose their elasticity, whereas atherosclerosis is where plague builds up in the artery which can lead to a blockage, causing a heart attack (Bernstein & Luggen, 2011). Many of the factors which promote cardiovascular diseases can also promote blood clotting; these blood clots can get stuck in the remaining space the plague has not filled which can also lead to blockage and heart attack (Pozuelo, 2012). The most common type of cardiovascular disease is coronary heart disease. The prevalence of this varies around the United Kingdom. With 4.6% of people in Scotland having the disease 4.3% in Wales 4.2% in Northern Ireland and 3.5% in England (Thomas, 2009). Coronary heart disease is more prevalent in affluent countries, where the population live on a diet high in fat and salt but low in fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer in the UK, in 2001 cardiovascular diseases caused over 120,000 deaths (Barasi, 2003). It is thought that there are currently 1.6 million men and just over 1 million women in the UK with some form of cardiovascular disease (Ascheim & Ascheim, 2009). Diet is a major factor in cardiovascular disease; it is mainly linked to diets high in fat, salt and sugar but low in non-starch polysaccharide. The type of fat consumed is important, as saturated and trans fatty acids have negative impacts on cardiovascular diseases by increasing cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels in the blood, while polyunsaturated fatty acids like omega 3 and 6 have LDL cholesterol lowering effects. Polyunsaturated fatty acids can also reduce high-density lipoproteins (HDL) in the blood to a smaller extent, this leads to the overall HDL: LDL ratio decreasing (Barasi, 2003). There is evidence that a diet high in vegetables, fruits and grains but low in fat reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. When including grains in the diet it has been found that whole grains rather than refined grains lead to weight loss around the abdomen as well as decreasing the LDLs in the patients’ blood. It is thought specific foods can also reduce the severity of cardiovascular disease. For example, it is advised to eat oranges and broccoli as they are filling and prevent the individual from filling up on foods high in fat and salt, it has also been found that Swiss chard and low fat yoghurt can lower blood pressure (Bernstein & Luggen, 2011). A diet high in salt has been found to contribute to hypertension, a leading risk factor in cardiovascular diseases, meaning that a lowered salt intake is advised to reduce the risk of such diseases. Soluble fibre from foods such as oats can reduce cholesterol levels; however these effects are not substantial. Foods which are rich in dietary fibre often fill up individuals which may lead to a lower overall energy intake. Diets high in non-starch polysaccharide have also been found to increase insulin sensitivity due to its association with a decrease in insulin levels, which then increases metabolic function (Barasi, 2003). Diet is not the only risk factor involved in cardiovascular disease other factors include smoking, family history of the disease, obesity, physical inactivity and high blood pressure (Bernstein & Luggen,...
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