Diet quality is inversely related to cardiovascular risk factors in adults

J Nutr. 2012 Dec;142(12):2112-8. doi: 10.3945/jn.112.164889. Epub 2012 Oct 17.


The goal of the study was to determine if there was an association between diet quality and cardiovascular risk factors (CVRF) in adults. NHANES 2001-2008 data were used to compare diet quality, as determined by using 2005 Healthy Eating Index (HEI-2005) scores, and CVRF in adults aged ≥19 y (n = 18,988; 51% men, 50% white, 21% African American, 25% Hispanic American, 4% other). HEI-2005 scores were calculated by using one 24-h dietary recall collected from the participants. Weight and adiposity, blood pressure, and CVRF were measured. Regression analyses were conducted to assess the linear relationship of CVRF and HEI-2005 scores by using appropriate covariates accounting for sample weights and the complex sample design of NHANES. OR were calculated for HEI quartiles and CVRF. BMI (P < 0.0001), waist circumference (WC) (P < 0.0001), diastolic blood pressure (P = 0.0002), C-reactive protein (P = 0.0016), total cholesterol (P = 0.0006), LDL cholesterol (P = 0.0039), and metabolic syndrome (P = 0.0035) were inversely associated with HEI-2005. HDL cholesterol significantly (P = 0.0048) increased across HEI-2005 quartiles. Compared with the lowest HEI-2005 quartile, individuals with the highest diet quality (HEI-2005 quartile 4) were less likely to be overweight or obese (34%) or have elevated WC (35%), elevated blood pressure (26%), metabolic syndrome (35%), and decreased HDL-cholesterol concentrations (21%). Data suggest that diet quality is inversely associated with several CVRF.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet Surveys*
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors


  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Cholesterol