Health Studies

Soffrito Contains Healthy Antioxidants

Different Mediterranean soffritos (sautéed vegetables and spices, usually a combination of tomatoes, garlic, and onions cooked in olive oil) were analyzed for their content of healthy antioxidants. Researchers identified 40 different types of polyphenols, including some never previously reported in Mediterranean soffrito. Polyphenols are associated with low incidence of cardiovascular disease. The soffritos also contained other beneficial compounds such as carotenoids and vitamin C. The amount of the antioxidants differed among soffritos according to the type of vegetables or olive oil used to make them. Researchers also discovered that the health benefits obtained from soffrito are better than the benefits obtained from eating each ingredient separately.

Food Chemistry. 2013 Dec 15; 141(4): 3365-3372 (Vallverdú-Querald, et al.) [EPub ahead of print]

Med Diet Pattern May Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes

The foods we eat and the times at which we eat them can both affect blood sugar management, according to a very small randomized cross-over study carried out in Sweden. Researchers at Linköping University identified 19 people with type 2 diabetes, then observed their post-consumption response to three different breakfast-lunch combinations: low-fat (~50% of energy from carbohydrates), low-carbohydrate (~20% of energy from carbohydrates), and Mediterranean Diet (~33% of energy from carbohydrates). The low-fat and low-carbohydrate diets consisted of breakfast and lunch, whereas the Mediterranean Diet offered only black coffee at breakfast and a large lunch with red wine that equaled the number of calories in both the breakfast and lunch of each of the other two diets – an approach followed in many Mediterranean countries. After the Mediterranean lunch, subjects had greater insulin release, which kept glucose levels lower despite the larger meal. Researchers noted that their results are consistent with other research that shows that obese subjects show greater insulin-sensitivity when carbohydrates are concentrated at a single meal, and that most people are more insulin-resistant earlier in the day than at mid-day or in the evening.
PLOS ONE. 2013 Nov 27; 8(11): e79324 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079324 (Fernemark, et al).

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil & Exercise Prevent Cartilage Degeneration

Since inflammation is one of the factors leading to cartilage degeneration in osteoarthritis, Italian researchers explored whether extra-virgin olive oil could help protect joints from the ravages of inflammation. They found that consumption of extra-virgin olive oil, coupled with mild exercise on a treadmill, lowered inflammation markers and can help prevent osteoarthritis and preserve cartilage.
Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 2013 Dec;24(12):2064-75. Musumeci et al.

Nuts Associated with Lower Mortality Rate

Researchers examined the eating patterns of more than 76,000 women and more than 42,000 men over 24 to 30 years to assess the health effects of eating nuts. They discovered that eating nuts is associated with a reduced risk of mortality overall and specifically from cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease. As nut consumption increased (from none at all, to weekly, to daily), the incidences of mortality also decreased. Researchers noted that all types of nuts appear to have the same health benefit and did not see a difference between individual types, including peanuts and tree nuts.

The New England Journal of Medicine. 2013 November 21; 369:2001-2011 (Bao, et al.)

Med Diet Associated with Healthy Aging

A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine demonstrates that eating a Mediterranean Diet is associated with greater health and well-being in older age. The study analyzed food frequency questionnaires collected between 1984 and 1986 from 10,670 women in their late 50s and early 60s with no major chronic diseases. Fifteen years later researchers again collected data from the same women and found that those who had adhered to a Mediterranean Diet in middle age were about 40% more likely to live past 70 and to have avoided 11 chronic diseases measured in the study including many cancers, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. Those who most closely followed a Med Diet also were more likely to age without physical disabilities, signs of cognitive impairment, or mental health problems.
Annals of Internal Medicine. 2013; 159(9): 584-591. (Samieri, et al.)

Nutrient Profiles of Vegans Point to Lowest BMI

When researchers at Loma Linda University conducted a cross-sectional study of 71,715 subjects from the Adventist Health Study 2 to compare nutrient intakes between dietary patterns characterized by consumption or exclusion of meat and dairy products, they found a clear connection between diet type and weight among five groups: meat-eaters, semi-vegetarians, pescatarians, lacto-ovo vegetarians, and vegans.  Vegans were found to have the lowest average BMI, while meat-eaters showed the highest, along with the highest intake of heart-disease related fatty acids. Vegans also had the lowest occurrence of obesity (9%) compared to 33.3% of meat-eaters. The average age of study participants was 59.
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. August 2013. (Rizzo, Jaceldo-Sigl, Sabate, Fraser.)
 

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Reduces Age-Related Drop in Anti-Inflammatory Activity

Researchers in Quebec measured an anti-inflammatory component of HDL (“good cholesterol”) in ten young adults and ten elderly adults, and found that the older people had less anti-inflammatory activity. After 12 weeks of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) consumption, anti-inflammatory activity increased in both groups and reduced the age-related difference between the two groups.
British Journal of Nutrition. 2013 Oct;110(7):1272:84. Loued et al.

Med Diet with Low Glycemic Load May Reduce Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

Researchers analyzed data from more than 22,000 participants followed over 11 years in the Greek cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) to investigate the relationship between the Mediterranean Diet, glycemic load, and occurrence of type 2 diabetes. The researchers found that people who consumed a low glycemic load diet that adheres to the principles of the Mediterranean Diet may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 20%.
Diabetologia. 2013 Aug 22. [Epub ahead of print.] [Rossi, et al.]
 

Fruit Consumption May Lower Risk of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Researchers in Sweden followed the fruit and vegetable consumption of more than 80,000 men and women over a 13-year period to investigate the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and occurrence of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). The aorta is the body’s largest artery. A bulge in the aorta’s wall in the abdomen is an abdominal aortic aneurysm. A ruptured aneurysm causes internal bleeding and can cause death. The research team found that people who ate more than two servings of fruit per day had a 25% lower risk of developing AAA and a 43% lower risk of rupture than those who ate less than 7/10 of a serving of fruit per day. They found no relationship between vegetable consumption and risk of AAA.
Circulation. 2013; 128(8):795-802. (Stackelberg, et al.)

Mediterranean Diet and Genetic Risk of Stroke

Researchers from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University and from the CIBER Fisiopatalogía de la Obesidad y Nutritión in Spain have found that the Mediterranean Diet reduces stroke risk in people with a gene variant associated with the development of type 2 diabetes. Working with the data from the PREDIMED study, researchers identified that patients carrying two copies of the Transcription Factor 7-Like 2 (TCF7L2) gene, which is known to place patients at high risk for type 2 diabetes and suspected of connections with other diseases, had a risk factor for stroke almost three times higher than those with only one copy or no copies of the gene. But patients with two copies of the gene who adhered to a Mediterranean Diet reduced their risk for stroke to the same levels as those with one or no copies of the gene.
Diabetes Care. Epub 2013 August 13. [Corella, et al.].

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