Diet, Mental Health, and Heart: Stepping Stones to Better Cardiovascular Health


The mind, heart, and body are interconnected and interdependent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in five Americans experience a mental illness each year. Poor mental health symptoms, including depression, have acute and chronic impact on the cardiovascular (CV) system, leading to an increased risk of disease, comorbidities, and premature death. Prolonged mental stress can influence physiological and behavioral responses like elevated blood pressure, inflammation, increased oxidative stress, increased cortisol level, insulin resistance, poor dietary intake, and poor compliance with medications, ultimately contributing to cardiovascular disease (CVD). Dietary and mind-body interventions play an important role in the primary and secondary prevention of CVD. This session will explain the psychological, physiological and behavioral changes that occur when mental health is not optimized–changes that can lead to increased risk for CVD. Nutrition professionals will learn how they can play an essential role in addressing the importance of mental health and its impact on food choices and CV health. Attendees will be able to identify the importance of mental well-being and be able to share tips with clients on ways to improve their mental health and dietary choices to assist them in improving their CV well-being.

Learning Objectives

Describe the impact of mental health and well-being on cardiovascular health

Explain the impact of psychological health on food choices and quality of dietary intake

Identify ways to assess mental health and well-being and relevant interventions to support self- and client-positive psychological functioning

Performance Indicators

4.1 Demonstrates sound professional judgment and strategic thinking in practice

10.1 Conducts nutrition screening to identify individuals who require a nutrition assessment

8.1 Interprets and applies current food and nutrition science in nutrition and dietetics practice


Erin Michos

Associate Professor, Director of Women Cardiovascular Health Research

John Hopkins School of Medicine

Kristina Petersen

Associate Professor

Pennsylvania State University


Satya Jonnalagadda

Vice President Scientific and Clinical Affairs


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