London, March 19: People who adapt their daily diet can reduce their risk of a heart attack or a stroke by up to a third, shows a new study by King's College London.
For the study, healthy middle-aged and older men and women were engaged to compare the effects on risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) of following a healthy diet compared to a traditional diet.
The risk of CVD over the next 10 years for the participants was estimated to be about 8 percent in the men and 4 percent in the women.
"We show that adherence to current dietary guidelines which advocate a change in dietary pattern from the traditional British diet (high in saturated fat, salt and sugar, low in fibre, oily fish and fruit and vegetables) would substantially lower that risk," said Tom Sanders from King's College London.
In the study that appeared in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers measured the blood pressure, vascular function and CVD risk factors in 162 healthy non-smoking men and women in a control group.
Those on the modified diet ate oily fish once a week, more fruit and vegetables, replaced refined with wholegrain cereals.
The average body weight in the group who followed the modified diet fell by 1.3 kg while that in the control group rose by 0.6 kg after 12 weeks.
Significant falls in systolic blood pressure/diastolic blood pressure of 4.2/2.5 mm Hg for daytime and 2.9/1.9 mm Hg for night time were measured in the dietary group compared with the control group.
The cholesterol levels also fell by 8 percent.
"Overall, healthy men and women aged 40 and over who adapt their daily diet reduce their risk of heart disease by up to a third," concluded the study.