Background: Previous studies on diet and coronary heart disease (CHD) focused primarily on individual nutrients or foods.
Objective: We examined whether overall dietary patterns derived from a food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ) predict risk of CHD in men.
Design: This was a prospective cohort study of 44875 men aged 40-75 y without diagnosed cardiovascular disease or cancer at baseline in 1986.
Results: During 8 y of follow-up, we documented 1089 cases of CHD (nonfatal myocardial infarction and fatal CHD). Using factor analysis, we identified 2 major dietary patterns using dietary data collected through a 131-item FFQ. The first factor, which we labeled the "prudent pattern," was characterized by higher intake of vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains, fish, and poultry, whereas the second factor, the "Western pattern," was characterized by higher intake of red meat, processed meat, refined grains, sweets and dessert, French fries, and high-fat dairy products. After adjustment for age and CHD risk factors, the relative risks from the lowest to highest quintiles of the prudent pattern score were 1.0, 0. 87, 0.79, 0.75, and 0.70 (95% CI: 0.56, 0.86; P: for trend = 0.0009). In contrast, the relative risks across increasing quintiles of the Western pattern score were 1.0, 1.21, 1.36, 1.40, and 1.64 (95% CI: 1.24, 2.17; P: for trend < 0.0001). These associations persisted in subgroup analyses according to cigarette smoking, body mass index, and parental history of myocardial infarction.
Conclusions: These data suggest that major dietary patterns derived from the FFQ predict risk of CHD, independent of other lifestyle variables.