Study warns eating inflammatory foods may put your heart at risk

Eating certain foods that are linked to inflammation may be increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke, according to a study published by the American College of Cardiology. The research joins a different study published in the same journal that looked into the effects of anti-inflammatory foods on potentially decreasing risk.

At the heart of the matter is chronic inflammation and its role in the development of heart disease, a condition that raises one's risk of heart attack and stroke. Past research has linked certain diets to inflammation, but the new study focuses on the long-term consumption of these foods and whether that may increase stroke and heart disease rates.

Using data from the Nurses' Health Studies 1 and 2 that had up to 32 years of follow up, the researchers focused on participants who had diet information included while excluding those who had been diagnosed with stroke, cancer, or heart disease. More than 210,000 people were ultimately included in this latest study, which notes that the participants reported their diet info every four years.

A total of 18 food groups were considered pro-inflammatory, including sugar, refined grains, red meat, and processed foods. Participants who reported eating pro-inflammatory diets were found to have a 46-percent greater risk of heart disease and a 28-percent greater risk of stroke compared to participants who ate anti-inflammatory diets.

Researchers suggested a number of foods that contain fiber and antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation or keep it at bay, including things like pumpkin, carrots, spinach, coffee, and wine. Beyond that, the study also advises that consumers limit the amount of pro-inflammatory foods they eat, including red meat, fried foods, soft drinks, and refined grain and sugar.