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Researchers say westernized Chinese are moving away from the traditional diet rich in vegetables and green tea and instead adopting the typical American diet that contains larger amounts of animal fats – a dietary shift that may be increasing their risk of heart disease and stroke.

The study was presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Atlanta. Villagers in Pan Yu, a town in Guangdong Province in southern China, emphasize the traditional Chinese diet of vegetables, rice and green tea, said Dr. Kam Woo, professor and consultant cardiologist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Woo believes it is no coincidence that the area also has one of the lowest rates of heart disease in the world.

In the study, westernized Chinese individuals in Hong Kong, Sydney, Australia, and San Francisco had thicker inner walls in their carotid arteries (located in the neck) than study participants in Pan Yu – a sign that the westernized participants are developing atherosclerosis, the scientists said. 

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