In France, cardiovascular problems are responsible for a third of all deaths. It is the leading cause of death among women and the second cause for men. However these death rates are the lowest in the European Union for reasons still poorly known. Food is certainly not foreign. It indeed plays a crucial role in the appearance of these cardiovascular problems.
Among the causes of cardiovascular diseases, the most important is atherosclerosis, degenerative phenomenon that reaches the arteries by reducing their elasticity and creating a decrease, or a disruption of arterial flow.
Many factors in issue
This pathology that covers several diseases (ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease etc.) is the responsibility of multiple factors: genetic, nutritional, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, tobacco, high blood pressure, diabetes. Among these causes, dietary factors have a very important place and their role in cardiovascular pathology is the object of multiple research for 50 years to better prevent and control these diseases.
Beware the cholesterol!
The relationship between dietary fat and atherosclerosis has been highlighted since the 1960s. A too high levels of cholesterol in the blood – or high cholesterol – is linked to arterial atherosclerosis, such as the coronary arteries. This rate partly depends on the balance between intakes of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. It has thus highlighted in some epidemiological studies a reduction in the incidence of coronary heart disease after modification of dietary fat. At the same time, have used drugs for lowering cholesterol, with the same results.
In the 1970s, were distinguished the amount of circulating cholesterol carried by the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) which have a preventive effect on coronary artery disease, to those worn by the low density lipoprotein (LDL) that have increase the risk. HDL-cholesterol tends to increase with the addition of fat in the diet, regardless of the nature of fatty acids.
Too much carbohydrate or alcohol…
The measurement of HDL and LDL from the blood therefore has a value of more specific meaning in terms of risk as the only measure of cholesterol. On the other hand the increase of other lipid components present in the blood, triglycerides, is an additional element of risk of atherosclerosis. It is favored by a diet too rich in carbohydrates and high doses of alcohol.
Moreover, the decrease in coronary risk, if it is well linked to the reduction of saturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acids increased, meets mechanisms complex and yet completely unidentified, especially for those of a genetic nature. Talking since long ‘of familial hypercholesterolemia’, and there would be answering machines subjects and any other non-responders to l ‘ elevation of LDL cholesterol after a diet enriched in cholesterol, due to the presence of a specific gene. This avenue of research is developing many.