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Japanese and Chinese Teas Reduce Parkinson's Risk

An association between coffee intake and reduced risk of Parkinson’s Disease has been observed in Western populations, and researchers at Fukuoka University in Japan set out to see if a similar association might exist with tea in Asian populations. They compared 249 people with Parkinson’s to 368 controls. After adjusting for confounding factors, they determined there was a clear dose-response relationship between drinking more caffeine from all sources (coffee, black tea, Chinese tea, Japanese tea) and reduced risk of Parkinson’s.
Parkinsonism and Related Disorders. July 2011; 17(6):446-50 (Tanaka et al.)

Fitting In But Getting Fat

In an ingenious experiment, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley set out to learn if the desire to fit in might cause U.S. immigrant groups to eat less healthy foods. Asian Americans questioned about their ability to speak English were three times more likely to name a prototypically American food as their favorite food; when their American identity was challenged they ordered and ate more typically American dishes, with 182 additional calories and 12 extra grams of fat than when their identity was not challenged.
Psychological Science. July 2011; 22(7):959-67 (Guendelman et al.)

Traditional Lacto-Fermentation in Asian Foods

Korea University researchers explored the role of lactic acid bacteria in many traditional (non-dairy) Asian foods like kimchi. This traditional process controls pathogens and micro-organisms to preserve food safely, while contributing desirable flavors and often improving nutritional value. The authors give examples from throughout Asia and explain the process of lacto-fermentation.
Microbial Cell Factories. 2011; 10(Suppl 1): S5. Epub August 30, 2011. (Rhee et al.)

The "Japan Diet" May Reduce Cardiovascular Risk

Researchers in Tokyo conducted a review of the nutrition transition in Japan in the last 40-50 years relative to the risk of chronic disease.  Many studies suggest that the traditional Japanese diet, featuring a higher intake of fruits, vegetables, fish, and soy and a limited intake of saturated fat and salt is protective against cardiovascular disease.  However, if dietary patterns in Japan continue to be Westernized, the prevalence of chronic disease is expected to increase.
Journal of Atherosclerosis and Thrombosis.  2011;18(9):723-734. Epub Jun 17, 2011 (Tada et al.)

Red Meat Increases Colon Cancer Risk in Japan

As Asian populations have changed from traditional to Westernized diets, their consumption of red meat has increased.  While meat consumption is still considered moderate compared to Western standards, the Japanese are nonetheless experiencing negative effects associated with red meat consumption—particularly colon or rectal cancer.  A Japanese study administered a food frequency questionnaire to 80,658 men and women aged 45 to 74 years over the years between 1995-2006. In the 2006 final checkup, 1,145 cases of colorectal cancer were identified.  Higher consumption of red meat was significantly associated with a higher incidence of colon cancer among these men and women.  In terms of physical location, these significant associations were as proximal colon cancer (in the beginning sections of the colon) in women and distal colon cancer (in the lower, rectal parts of the colon) in men.
Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2011; 20(4):603-12. (Takachi et al.)

Chinese Immigrants Increased Portion Size and Consumption of Convenience Food

Dutch researchers conducted an assessment of dietary patterns of Chinese immigrants to Canada.  Following immigration, some positive changes occurred, such as increased fruit and vegetable consumption, and less deep-fat frying.  However, immigrants also reported increased portion sizes, increased frequency of dining out, and increased consumption of convenience foods.
International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2011 May 18; 8:42 (Rosenmöller et al.)

Fish May Reduce Stroke, CVD, Cancer Mortality

A study conducted in Hong Kong sought to evaluate whether frequency of fish consumption affects mortality in adults.  Researchers found that consuming fish 1-3 times per week was associated with a lower rate of mortality from stroke (30% lower), cardiovascular disease (33% lower), and cancer (33% lower) than consuming fish less frequently.
Annals of Epidemiology.  2011 Mar; 21(3):164-169 (Wang et al.)

Live Longer with Increased Fish Consumption

Public Health officials in Hong Kong compared death records of 23,608 over the age of 30 with a group of 12,395 controls. Relatives registering the deaths were asked for dietary and lifestyle data, from which the researchers determined that those eating fish one to three times a week had a 25% lower risk of all-cause mortality, a 34% reduced risk of ischemic heart disease and cancer and a 30% reduced risk of stroke. They concluded that “fish consumption significantly reduced mortality from several causes.”
Annals of Epidemiology. March 2011; 21(3):164-9 (Wang et al.)

Kidney Failure and Diet Change in South Asians

Diabetic nephropathy is the most common cause of end-stage renal failure in many countries around the world.  As Western diets become more acidifying, so do the diets of immigrants adapting to the Western diet.  This diet acculturation may be to blame for the up to 40 times higher chance of development of end-stage renal failure in association with diabetes in South-Asian immigrants compared with whites, in Western countries.
Journal of Nephrology. 2011 Jan-Feb;24(1):11-7. (van den Berg et al.)

Diet, Breast Cancer Risk in Chinese Women

Hong Kong scientists evaluated the dietary intakes of Chinese women to identify patterns which may affect the risk of breast cancer.  A diet with the highest intake of vegetables, fruits, soy, milk, protein, and fish was associated with a 74% lower risk of breast cancer, compared to those eating the least of those healthy foods; those eating the most refined grains, meat, and pickles had 254% increased risk compared to those eating the least of those unhealthy foods. Not surprisingly, the women who combined a high intake of the healthy foods and a low intake of the unhealthy foods shows the overall lowest risk.
Cancer Causes & Control.  2011 Jan; 22(1):115-24.  (Zhang et al.)

Plant Calcium Beneficial to Bone Density

In cultures that do not traditionally consume dairy products, vegetables can be an important source of calcium — while at the same time providing key vitamins and minerals that are also essential to bone health. That’s the finding of Korean researchers at Chung Ang University in Seoul, after studying 144 post-menopausal women with osteoporosis and age-matched controls. In their study, the women with the highest intake of vegetables and plant-based calcium had significantly better bone density.
Nutrition Research. January 2011; 31(1):27-32 (Park et al.)

Turmeric Component May Reduce Inflammation

Scientists at the University of Buffalo reviewed several studies to assess the effect of curcumin, which is the active ingredient in turmeric.  Experiments using animal models suggest that curcumin may have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects and may regulate lipid metabolism.  These properties suggest that curcumin may have a role in the treatment of conditions associated with obesity.
Nutrition Review. 2010 Dec; 68(12):729-738.  (Alappat et al.)

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