Nutrition and Cardiovascular Disease—an Update

Kate J. Bowen, Valerie K. Sullivan, Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Kristina S. Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: This review summarizes recent developments in nutrition and cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention. Recent Findings: Contemporary dietary guidance recommends healthy dietary patterns with emphasis on food-based recommendations because the totality of the diet (i.e., the combinations and quantities of foods and nutrients consumed) is an important determinant of health. In many guidelines, recommendations are still made for saturated fat, added sugar, sodium, and dietary cholesterol because these are over-consumed by many people and are related to chronic disease development. Epidemiological research illustrates the importance of considering the total diet and the interrelatedness of nutrients in a dietary pattern. Traditionally, epidemiological research focused on individual nutrients in isolation, which can result in erroneous conclusions. An example of this, which has led to substantial controversy, is the evidence from studies evaluating the association between saturated fat and CVD without considering the replacement nutrient. Another controversial topic is the relationship between dietary cholesterol and CVD, which is confounded by saturated fat intake. Finally, the totality of evidence shows that high sodium intake is associated with greater CVD risk; however, some epidemiological research has suggested that a low-sodium intake is detrimental, which has caused some controversy. Overall, this reductionist approach has led to a debate about recommendations for saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. However, if approaches that accounted for the interrelatedness of nutrients had been taken, it is likely that there would be less controversy about these nutrients. To encourage dietary pattern-based approaches and consideration of total intake, dietary guidelines should emphasize food-based recommendations that meet nutrient targets. Thus, nutrient targets should underpin food-based dietary guidelines, and recommended dietary patterns should comply with nutrient-based targets. Summary: The evidence reviewed shows that it is imperative to consider total dietary patterns for CVD prevention. Dietary guidance should be aligned with nutrient targets and recommendations should be food and dietary pattern based.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8
JournalCurrent atherosclerosis reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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