AHA recognizes healthy eating pattern study in top cardiovascular disease research advances for 2023

a variety of heart healthy foods arranged in the shape of a heart

A study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers which linked a variety of healthy eating patterns with reduced risk of premature death was recognized by the American Heart Association (AHA) as one of 2023’s top advances in cardiovascular disease research.

Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the study found that participants who scored high on adherence to at least one of four healthy eating patterns were less likely to die during the study period from any cause and less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, cancer, or respiratory disease, compared with people with lower scores.1 The researchers used health data collected over 36 years from 75,230 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study and 44,085 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. The findings were consistent across racial and ethnic groups, suggesting that healthy eating guidelines can be adapted to individual food traditions and preferences. (Read more about the study.)

The AHA compiles this annual overview of significant scientific advances in the fight against cardiovascular disease, which claims more than 850,000 lives in the U.S. each year and is the leading cause of death and disability worldwide. In their recognition of the Harvard-led study, the AHA noted that “findings from such a large cohort provide further support for [our] Food is Medicine initiative, which encourages health care systems to help patients access and consume healthy foods based on scientific evidence that a healthy diet can help prevent, manage and treat chronic illness.” An overall healthy eating pattern is also featured as one of the core components in AHA’s Life’s Essential 8™.

  1. “Healthy Eating Patterns and Risk of Total and Cause-Specific Mortality,” Zhilei Shan, Fenglei Wang, Yanping Li, Megu Y. Baden, Shilpa N. Bhupathiraju, Dong D. Wang, Qi Sun, Kathryn M. Rexrode, Eric B. Rimm, Lu Qi, Fred K. Tabung, Edward L. Giovannucci, Walter C. Willett, JoAnn E. Manson, Qibin Qi, Frank B. Hu, JAMA Internal Medicine, 2023;183(2):142-153. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2022.6117