Health Studies

Med Diet Lowers Risk of Overall Heart Disease

Researchers at the University of Miami examined the relationship between a Mediterranean diet and risk of ischemic stroke, myocardial infarction, and vascular death among 2568 participants (black, Hispanic and white). Adherence to the Mediterranean diet was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire; the higher the score the greater the adherence to the Mediterranean diet.  The relationship between the Mediterranean diet and risk of ischemic stroke, myocardial infarction, and vascular death was assessed using Cox models, with control for socio-demographic and vascular risk factors.  Over a mean follow-up of 9 years, 518 vascular events accrued (171 ischemic strokes, 133 MI’s, and 314 vascular deaths).  The results of this study showed an inverse relationship between consumption of a Mediterranean diet and decreased risk of vascular events, supporting a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fish and olive oil as a way to promote health and decrease cardiovascular risks. 
American Journal of Nutrition 2011 Dec; 94(6):1458-64. (Gardener et al.)

Less Inflammation, Oxidative Stress with Med Diet

Italian researchers studied the diets of 131 healthy adults, and rated each person's diet for overall adherence to a traditional Mediterranean Diet. They compared this "Mediterranean Diet Score" to blood test results of cholesterol and triglycerides, antioxidant levels, immune system function and oxidative stress. They found that those with a higher Med Diet Score had less inflammation, reduced oxidative stress, and higher circulating levels of antioxidants, all of which are associated with reduced risk of disease.
Nutrition Journal, November 16, 2011; 10(1):125 [Epub ahead of print] (Azzini et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Reduces Expression of Inflammation Gene in Elderly

Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, has been linked with chronic low-grade inflammation, and such inflammation has been tied, in part, to fats in the diet. Scientists at the University of Córdoba, Spain, asked 20 healthy elderly adults to follow three different diets for three weeks each, and compared their bodies' expressions of a gene linked to inflammation under each diet. They found that consumption of a Mediterranean Diet reduced post-meal inflammation more than the other two diets (a saturated fat-rich diet or a low-fat, high-carb diet enriched with Omega 2 polyunsaturated fats). The researchers stated that "these findings may be partly responsible for the lower CVD risk found in populations with a high adherence to the Med Diet."
British Journal of Nutrition
, November 15, 2011;1-9 [Epub ahead of print] (Camargo et al.)

Diet and Metabolic Syndrome in Korean Women

Researchers evaluated the dietary patterns of Korean women in relation to the prevalence of metabolic syndrome.  Three overall patterns were identified: Western, Healthy, and Traditional.  The Healthy pattern features a higher intake of green-yellow vegetables and lean proteins and was associated with a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome in post-menopausal women compared to the Western and Traditional patterns.
Nutrition, Metabolism, & Cardiovascular Disease. 2011 Nov;21(11):893-900. (Cho et al.)

Gender Differences in Acculturation for Korean Immigrants

Based on a survey of Korean immigrants living in the United States, researchers at Queens College in New York City concluded that acculturated Korean immigrants consumed both healthy and unhealthy American foods.  Overweight men were reported to eat more fast food, hot dogs, and tacos than men of healthy weight.  Researchers noted gender differences in acculturation that should be considered for future research and health initiatives.
American Journal of Health Behavior. 2011 Nov;35(6):734-45 (Jasti et al.)

Sleep Apnea Improves with Mediterranean Diet

Researchers at Greece's University of Crete evaluated 900 patients to choose 40 obese adults with moderate to severe apnea. They divided the patients randomly into two groups, with half following the Mediterranean Diet and the other half following a "prudent diet;" everyone was encouraged to walk and exercise 30 minutes daily. After six months, the scientists found that the Mediterranean Diet group showed reduced apnea during REM sleep (about 25% of sleep) and a greater reduction in waist circumference and abdominal fat, as well as greater adherence to the diet. 

European Respiratory Journal, October 27, 2011 [Epub ahead of print] (Papandreou et al.)

Southern Chinese Diet & Risk of Stroke

The traditional southern Chinese diet consists of a higher intake of rice and vegetables and moderate intake of seafood, pork, and poultry, while the northern Chinese diet consists of a higher intake of refined wheat cereal products and potatoes.  The dietary pattern in southern China was associated with the lowest prevalence of stroke compared to the northern Chinese and Western diets.
The Journal of Nutrition.  2011 Oct; 141(10):1834-9.  (Li et al.)

Less Diabetes Among Vegetarians

Researchers at Loma Linda University in California studied a group of healthy, non-diabetic people – 15,200 men and 26,187 women (17.3% blacks) – in the U.S. and Canada to determine associations between diet and diabetes. After collecting dietary and lifestyle data, the researchers divided the subjects into five groups: vegan, lacto-ovo vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, and non-vegetarian, then contacted all of them again after two years. They found that vegan, lacto-ovo and semi-vegetarian diets were protective against the development of diabetes, which had developed in 2.12% of non-vegetarians during this interval and that "in Blacks, the dimension of the protection associated with vegetarian diets was as great as the excess risk associated with Black ethnicity."
Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases. October 7, 2011. [Epub ahead of print] (Tonstad et al.)

Lower Incidence of Diabetes in Vegetarians

A 2011 study examined the relationship of diet to incidence of diabetes among Black and non-Black participants in the Adventist Health Study-2.  The study participants included 15,200 men and 26,187 women (17.3% black) living in the US and Canada who were free of diabetes. Participants provided demographic, anthropometric, lifestyle and dietary data, while a follow-up questionnaire two years later elicited information on the development of diabetes.  Participants were grouped as vegan, lacto ovo vegetarian, pesco vegetarian, semi-vegetarian or non-vegetarian (reference group). The questionnaire results showed that vegetarian diets (vegan, lacto ovo and semi) were all associated with a substantial and independent reduction in diabetes incidence.  Blacks have long been associated with having an increased risk for diabetes.  The results of this study showed that the protection provided against diabetes from the consumption of vegetarian diets was as great as the excess risk associated with Black ethnicity.
Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases 2011 Oct 7. (Tonstad et al.)

Mexican Diet Largely Lost in One Generation

Researchers at the University of North Carolina compared the diets of 5678 Mexicans, 1488 Mexican Americans born in Mexico, 3654 Mexican Americans born in the U.S., and 5473 non-Hispanic Americans. They found that the three groups in the U.S. ate more saturated fat, sugar, pizza, fries, meat, fish, high-fiber bread and low-fat milk and less low-fiber bread, tortillas, high-fat milk and Mexican fast food. Although acculturation had both positive and negative food elements, overall calories from unhealthy foods were higher in the U.S. and the influence of the Mexican diet was lost in one generation.
The Journal of Nutrition. October 2011; 141(10):1898-906. (Batis et al.)

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