Food and Cardiovascular Disease: What to Eat and What Not to Eat


  • Tariq Ashraf Karachi Institute of Heart Diseases, Karachi, Pakistan
  • Saeedullah Shah Shifa International Hospital, Islamabad, Pakistan
  • Riffat Sultana Karachi Institute of Heart Diseases, Karachi, Pakistan



In 2019, the Global Burden of Disease study revealed alarming statistics regarding cardiovascular disease (CVD) in Pakistan. The estimated age-standardized incidence and death rates were 918.18 and 357.88 per 100,000 respectively, surpassing global averages.1 Notably, Pakistan faces unique challenges with a high prevalence of Rheumatic heart disease and early onset coronary artery disease.1

The World Health Organization's 2021 factsheet underscores four pivotal modifiable behavioral risk factors for CVD and stroke: unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use, and harmful alcohol consumption. These behaviors manifest in individuals as elevated blood pressure, glucose, lipids, and adverse body mass index, exacerbating cardiovascular risk.2 In Pakistan, the consumption of unhealthy foods and excessive calories significantly contributes to adverse cardiometabolic profiles, including obesity and dyslipidemia.2

Recent research, such as that by Daruish Mozaffain et al. in "Food is Medicine," advocates for food-based interventions tailored to individual health conditions, ranging from medically tailored meals to nutritional and culinary education.3 However, Pakistani patients with CVD face challenges due to the lack of localized guidelines, educational resources, and accessible nutritionists. Shah et al.'s review underscores the importance of providing clear and culturally relevant dietary guidance for the local population.4

Addressing these challenges requires the development of high-quality, culturally sensitive educational materials. These resources should be readily understandable, pictorial, and integrated into both inpatient and outpatient care. Local experts, including dietitians and researchers, can play a crucial role in creating tailored educational content. Figures 1 exemplify the efforts of these experts to provide practical guidance to the Pakistani population.4

In conclusion, there is an urgent need for comprehensive, easy-to-understand patient education resources catering to the unique nutritional needs of Pakistani individuals with cardiovascular disease. By addressing these gaps, we can empower patients to make informed dietary choices and improve cardiovascular outcomes.


  1. Samad Z, Hanif B. Cardiovascular Diseases in Pakistan: Imagining a Postpandemic, Postconflict Future. Circulation. 2023;147(17):1261-3.
  2. Liaquat A, Javed Q. Current trends of cardiovascular risk determinants in Pakistan. Cureus. 2018;10(10):e3409.
  3. Mozaffarian D, Aspry KE, Garfield K, Kris-Etherton P, Seligman H, Velarde GP, et al. “Food Is Medicine” Strategies for Nutrition Security and Cardiometabolic Health Equity: JACC State-of-the-Art Review. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2024;83(8):843-64.
  4. Shah SU, Waseem T, Afridi T, Shah MI. Nutritional Needs for Cardiovascular Health in Pakistani Population. Pak Heart J. 2022;55(2):101-13.
  5. American Heart Association. Lifestyle Changes for Heart Failure. Accessed on March 30, 2024. Available at:
  6. American Diabetes Association. What superstar foods are good for diabetes? Accessed on March 30, 2024. Available at:
  7. American Heart Association. The American Heart Association Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations. Accessed on March 30, 2024. Available at:
  8. American Heart Association. Managing Blood Pressure with a Heart-Healthy Diet. Accessed on March 30, 2024. Available at:


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How to Cite

Ashraf T, Shah S, Sultana R. Food and Cardiovascular Disease: What to Eat and What Not to Eat. Pak Heart J [Internet]. 2024Mar.30 [cited 2024Jun.16];57(1):1-2. Available from: