- Experts say iron deficiency is linked to about 10% of all heart disease cases.
- Scientists from the University of Hamburg followed more than 12,000 men and women
- The team monitored iron levels and heart disease rates over a 13-year period.
- Patients who were iron deficient were about 25% more likely to die from heart disease
Following a ‘poppy diet’ of lots of green vegetables cuts heart disease risk by a quarter, research finds
A research has found that following a ‘poppy diet’ of plenty of green vegetables, the risk of heart disease is reduced by a quarter.
One study found that if people increased their intake of iron-rich foods, it could prevent hundreds of thousands of heart disease cases in the UK.
Experts found that iron deficiency, affecting about two-thirds of middle-aged people, is associated with about ten percent of all cases of heart disease.
He urged adults to consume iron-rich foods like red meat, spinach, mushrooms, tofu and lentils to reduce the chances of heart attack.
Foods rich in vitamin C such as broccoli, peppers and fruits also help the body absorb iron – a mineral that is important in making red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body.
A team from the University of Hamburg followed more than 12,000 men and women with an average age of 59 years.
They monitored their iron levels and compared these to rates of heart disease and heart attacks over a 13-year period.
Blood tests showed that about two-thirds of the participants were iron deficient, which can cause symptoms including fatigue and shortness of breath.
Experts found that iron deficiency, affecting about two-thirds of middle-aged people, is associated with about ten percent of heart disease cases. He urged adults to consume iron-rich foods like red meat, spinach, mushrooms, tofu and lentils to reduce the chances of heart attack.
Patients who lacked enough iron were about 25 percent more likely to die from heart disease and 12 percent more likely to die from any cause.
The study, published by the European Society of Cardiology, concluded that one in ten new cases of heart disease in middle-aged adults could be prevented if people increased their iron levels. It would also prevent one in 20 deaths from heart disease in people in their fifties and sixties.
Iron deficiency can be met through supplements or dietary changes, such as eating more spinach or red meat.
Lead author Dr Benedict Schraj said: ‘The study showed that iron deficiency was highly prevalent in this middle-aged population, with approximately two thirds of functional iron deficient.
‘These individuals were more likely to develop heart disease and were also more likely to die during the next 13 years.’
Iron deficiency is the world’s most common nutritional disorder, and can lead to heart and lung complications, along with illness and infection.
Women are especially vulnerable to menstruation – especially women with heavy periods.
More than a quarter of women aged 19 to 64 in the UK are eating less than the recommended amount of iron.
Heart disease is responsible for almost a quarter of deaths in the UK – over 160,000 people die each year.
About 7.6 million people in the UK suffer from heart or circulatory disease: 4 million men and 3.6 million women.
Regina Giblin, senior cardiac nurse from the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘We already know that for people who have circulatory diseases such as heart and heart failure, iron deficiency can worsen their symptoms, shorten their lives. The quality may decrease and their mortality may increase. .
‘Although studies suggest a high prevalence of iron deficiency, the reasons behind this have not been looked at.
‘Further research is needed to determine whether iron deficiency would be classified as a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular and circulatory diseases and the effect of treating iron deficiency with iron supplements.
‘If you are concerned about your iron status talk to your doctor first. They can give you advice, or refer you to a registered dietitian.’
What should a balanced diet look like?
According to the NHS, meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains.
• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruits and vegetables count
• Foods based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains
• 30 grams of fiber a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruits and vegetables, 2 biscuits of whole wheat cereal, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and a large baked potato with skin
• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soy drinks), choose low-fat and low-sugar options
• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (2 portions of fish per week, one of which should be oily)
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consume them in moderation
• Drink 6-8 cups/glass of water in a day
• Adults should have less than 6 grams of salt and 20 grams of saturated fat per day for women or 30 grams for men
Source: NHS Eatwell Guide