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What is the relationship between dietary patterns consumed and risk of cardiovascular disease?

Approach to Answering the Question
Update to Existing NESR Systematic Review

Dietary Patterns Subcommittee

Systematic Review Protocol
Developed for each scientific question being examined, the protocol describes the plan for how the systematic review was conducted. The protocol provides the: 

  • Analytic framework, 
  • Literature search and screening plan, and 
  • Literature search and screening results. 

See the full protocol for the question, what is the relationship between dietary patterns consumed and risk of cardiovascular disease? 

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Draft Conclusion Statement

The draft conclusion statements listed below describe the state of the science related to the specific question examined. Draft conclusions are not considered final until they have been deliberated with and decided upon by the full Committee and published in the Committee’s final advisory report. Individual conclusion statements should not be interpreted as dietary guidance or the Committee’s overarching advice to the Departments. 

Dietary Patterns: Children 

Limited evidence in children and adolescents suggests that dietary patterns reflecting higher intakes of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, low-fat dairy, legumes, and lower intake of sugar sweetened beverages, other sweets and processed meat, are associated with lower blood pressure and blood lipid levels, including LDL, HDL and triglycerides later in life. Grade: Limited

Dietary Patterns: Adults

The 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee conducted a systematic evidence scan and determined that the conclusion drawn by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee generally* reflects the current state of science: Strong and consistent evidence demonstrates that dietary patterns associated with decreased risk of CVD are characterized by higher consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and seafood, and lower consumption of red and processed meat, and lower intakes of refined grains, and sugar-sweetened foods and beverages relative to less healthy patterns. Regular consumption of nuts and legumes and moderate consumption of alcohol also are shown to be components of a beneficial dietary pattern in most studies. Randomized dietary intervention studies have demonstrated that healthy dietary patterns exert clinically meaningful impact on cardiovascular risk factors, including blood lipids and blood pressure. Additionally, research that includes specific nutrients in their description of dietary patterns indicate that patterns that are lower in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium and richer in fiber, potassium, and unsaturated fats are beneficial for reducing cardiovascular disease risk. 2015 DGAC Grade: Strong 

Diets Based on Macronutrient Distribution: Children

No evidence was available to determine the relationship between diets based on macronutrient distribution consumed in childhood and concurrent or future development of cardiovascular disease. Grade: Grade Not Assignable

Diets Based on Macronutrient Distribution: Adults

Limited evidence suggests non-energy restricted diets based solely on macronutrient distribution with either carbohydrate, fat, and/or protein proportions outside of the acceptable macronutrient distribution range, are neither beneficial nor detrimental regarding risk of cardiovascular disease in adults, primarily among those at high-risk such as those with overweight, obesity or features of metabolic syndrome. Grade: Limited

*The Committee will have a section of its report discussing additional information about alcohol consumption and health outcomes.