Nutrition intervention for reduction of cardiovascular risk in african americans using the 2019 american college of cardiology/american heart association primary prevention guidelines

Kim Allan Williams, Ibtihaj Fughhi, Setri Fugar, Monica Mazur, Sharon Gates, Stephen Sawyer, Hena Patel, Darrius Chambers, Ronald McDaniel, Jochen R. Reiser, Terry Mason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Introduction: The 2019 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) Prevention Guidelines emphasize reduction in dietary sodium, cholesterol, refined carbohydrates, saturated fat and sweetened beverages. We hypothesized that implementing this dietary pattern could reduce cardiovascular risk in a cohort of volunteers in an urban African American (AA) community church, during a 5-week ACC/AHA-styled nutrition intervention, assessed by measuring risk markers and adherence, called HEART-LENS (Helping Everyone Assess Risk Today Lenten Nutrition Study). Methods: The study population consisted of 53 volunteers who committed to eat only home-delivered non-dairy vegetarian meals (average daily calories 1155, sodium 1285 mg, cholesterol 0 mg; 58% carbohydrate, 17% protein, 25% fat). Body mass index (BMI) and fasting serum markers of cardiometabolic and risk factors were measured, with collection of any dietary deviation. Results: Of 53 volunteers, 44 (mean age 60.2 years, 37 women) completed the trial (88%); 1 was intolerant of the meals, 1 completed both blood draws but did not eat delivered food, and 7 did not return for the tests. Adherence to the diet was reported at 93% in the remaining 44. Cardiometabolic risk factors improved significantly, highlighted by a marked reduction in serum insulin (−43%, p = 0.000), hemoglobin A1c (6.2% to 6.0%, p = 0.000), weight and BMI (−10.2 lbs, 33 to 31 kg/m2, p = 0.000), but with small reductions of fasting glucose (−6%, p = 0.405) and triglyceride levels (−4%, p = 0.408). Additionally, improved were trimethylamine-N-oxide (5.1 to 2.9 µmol/L, −43%, p = 0.001), small dense low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) (24.2 to 19.1 mg/dL, −21%, p = 0.000), LDL (121 to 104 mg/dL, −14%, p = 0.000), total cholesterol (TC) (190 to 168 mg/dL, −12%, p = 0.000), and lipoprotein (a) (LP(a)) (56 to 51 mg/dL, −11%, p = 0.000); high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) was widely variable but reduced by 16% (2.5 to 2.1 ng/mL, p = NS) in 40 subjects without inflammatory conditions. Soluble urokinase plasminogen activator (suPAR) levels were not significantly changed. The ACC/AHA pooled cohort atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risk scores were calculated for 41 and 36 volunteers, respectively, as the ASCVD risk could not be calculated for 3 subjects with low lipid fractions at baseline and 8 subjects after intervention (p = 0.184). In the remaining subjects, the mean 10-year risk was reduced from 10.8 to 8.7%, a 19.4% decrease (p = 0.006), primarily due to a 14% decrease in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and a 10 mm Hg (6%) reduction in systolic blood pressure. Conclusions: In this prospective 5-week non-dairy vegetarian nutrition intervention with good adherence consistent with the 2019 ACC/AHA Guidelines in an at-risk AA population, markers of cardiovascular risk, cardiometabolism, and body weight were significantly reduced, including obesity, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDLc) density, LP(a), inflammation, and ingestion of substrates mediating production of trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO). Albeit reduced, hs-CRP and suPAR, were not lowered consistently. This induced a significant decrease in the 10-year ASCVD risk in this AA cohort. If widely adopted, this could dramatically reduce and possibly eradicate, the racial disparity in ASCVD events and mortality, if 19% of the 21% increase is eliminated by this lifestyle change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3422
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • African americans
  • Cardiovascular risk
  • Nutrition intervention
  • Plant-based diet
  • Vegan diet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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