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How Does Your Culture Influence Your Risk for Heart Disease?

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how your culture can influence your heart disease risk iStockphoto/Thinkstock

One of the things we often overlook when it comes to heart disease is how our culture -- both familial, work, regional, and even national culture -- may influence our propensity for heart disease.

For example, growing up in West Texas I know quite a number of cattle ranchers. When it comes to heart disease, one rancher in particular comes to mind.

As the story goes, every morning this rancher had bacon or sausage, several fried eggs, pork chops, and biscuits and gravy for breakfast. Since this is what he wanted for breakfast, it’s also what the family ate.

Never overweight, this rancher worked off what he consumed but the steady diet of high fat foods contributed to high blood pressure and a first heart attack in his early 40s.

Unfortunately, even after the ranch sold and children married and moved away to different pursuits, the familial mealtime culture was handed down and set the stage for several generations to battle obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease.

As the world becomes more global, countries who at one time enjoyed relatively low rates of heart disease are finding the risk of heart disease on the rise as the populace adopts the eating habits of other cultures.

Uniquely American-style food fare such as pizzas, hamburgers, and of course, those highly delicious -- and somewhat addictive -- french fries, hotdogs, and fried chicken, are making their way into Southeast Asian cuisine.

As consuming American-style fast food become more common, Asians are seeing an increased risk of dying from heart disease along with developing Type 2 diabetes, according to results of a new study.

According to lead study author Andrew Odegaard, PhD, MPH, consumption of Western foods has been on the increase in East and Southeast Asia since the late 1980s.

In examining Chinese adults living in Singapore, researchers found that those Chinese-Singaporeans who consumed American-style fast foods exhibited an increased risk of both developing diabetes and dying from heart-related disease when compared to their non-fast food consuming counterparts.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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