A new study has found that almost a third of the heart attack risk around the world is due to typically "Western" diets, which include a lot fried food, salty snacks and meat.
The eating habits of 16,000 people, including almost 6,000 who had suffered heart attacks, in 52 countries, were studied by researchers. Poor diet was found to be the main factor for 30% of the heart disease risk.
Professor Salim Yusuf, Director of the Population Health Research Institute in Ontario, Canada, led the team of scientists, who compared 5,761 heart attack cases with 10,646 people with no history of heart disease.
Three global dietary patterns were identified: "oriental", marked by high consumption of tofu and soy; "prudent", characterised by a high intake of fruits and vegetables; and "Western", which included relatively large amounts of fried foods, salty snacks, eggs and meat.
"Prudent" eaters were 30% less likely to suffer heart attacks than people who consumed little in the way of fruits and vegetables, while participants with a "Western" diet had a 35% greater risk of heart attack than those who ate little or no fried foods and meat.
The "oriental" dietary pattern had no effect on heart attack risk.