By Alice Klein
Less meat, more coffee. That’s the secret to reducing your risk of heart failure, according to two studies.
Heart failure is a progressive condition in which the heart cannot pump as much blood as the body needs. This results in less oxygen and nutrients being delivered to the rest of the body, and can lead to death.
Kyla Lara at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and her team have analysed data on diet and heart health from more than 15,000 people over the age of 45. They found that people who had been previously diagnosed with heart disease or heart failure were 28 per cent less likely to be subsequently hospitalised for heart failure if they ate a diet consisting mostly of fruit, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and some fish, when compared with people who ate mainly meat and processed foods.
The findings, presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association in Anaheim, California, today, were observational, and couldn’t show cause-and-effect, but they fit with other research, says Lara. “People who eat more plant-based foods eat less processed foods and therefore have less sodium intake, which has been shown to increase risk for high blood pressure and heart failure,” she says.
The meeting today also heard that drinking coffee is associated with a lower risk of heart failure.
In an analysis of more than 17,000 adults aged 44 and older, Laura Stevens at the University of Colorado and her team found that coffee-drinkers seem to have a 7 per cent lower risk of developing heart failure for every cup of coffee they consume per week, compared with non-coffee drinkers.
It is unclear why coffee would cut the risk of heart failure, says Stevens. “We don’t yet know if it is the coffee intake itself or another behaviour that might go along with it,” she says. For example, coffee-drinkers may simply have healthier lifestyles.