Inflammation plays an important role in cardiovascular disease (CVD) development. Diet modulates inflammation; however, it remains unknown whether dietary patterns with higher inflammatory potential are associated with long-term CVD risk
We prospectively followed 74,578 women from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) (1984–2016), 91,656 women from the NHSII (1991–2015), and 43,911 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986–2016) who were free of CVD and cancer at baseline. Diet was assessed by food frequency questionnaires every 4 years. The inflammatory potential of diet was evaluated using a food-based empirical dietary inflammatory pattern (EDIP) score that was pre-defined based on levels of 3 systemic inflammatory biomarkers.
During 5,291,518 person-years of follow-up, we documented 15,837 incident CVD cases, including 9,794 coronary heart disease (CHD) cases and 6,174 strokes. In pooled analyses of the 3 cohorts, after adjustment for use of anti-inflammatory medications and CVD risk factors including body mass index, a higher dietary inflammatory potential, as indicated by higher EDIP scores, was associated with an increased risk of CVD (hazard ratio [HR] comparing the highest to lowest quintiles: 1.38; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.31 to 1.46; p for trend <0.001), CHD (HR: 1.46; 95% CI: 1.36 to 1.56; p for trend <0.001), and stroke (HR: 1.28; 95% CI: 1.17- to 1.39; p for trend <0.001).
These associations were consistent across cohorts and between sexes, and they remained significant after further adjustment for other dietary quality indices. In a subset of study participants (n = 33,719), a higher EDIP was associated with a higher circulating profile of proinflammatory biomarkers, lower levels of adiponectin, and an unfavorable blood lipid profile (p < 0.001).
Dietary patterns with a higher proinflammatory potential were associated with higher CVD risk. Reducing the inflammatory potential of the diet may potentially provide an effective strategy for CVD prevention.