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Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the most common non-communicable disease occurring globally. Although previous literature has provided useful insights into the important role that diet plays in CVD prevention and treatment, understanding the causal role of diets is a difficult task considering inherent and introduced weaknesses of observational (e.g. not properly addressing confounders and mediators) and experimental research designs (e.g. not appropriate or well designed). In this narrative review, we organised current evidence linking diet, as well as conventional and emerging physiological risk factors, with CVD risk, incidence and mortality in a series of diagrams. The diagrams presented can aid causal inference studies as they provide a visual representation of the types of studies underlying the associations between potential risk markers/factors for CVD. This may facilitate the selection of variables to be considered and the creation of analytical models. Evidence depicted in the diagrams was systematically collected from studies included in the British Nutrition Task Force report on diet and CVD and database searches, including Medline and Embase. Although several markers and disorders linked to conventional and emerging risk factors for CVD were identified, the causal link between many remains unknown. There is a need to address the multifactorial nature of CVD and the complex interplay between conventional and emerging risk factors with natural and built environments, while bringing the life course into the spotlight.

Original publication




Journal article


Nutr Res Rev

Publication Date



1 - 27


Cardiovascular disease, Causality, Diet, Nutritional status, Review, Risk factors