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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.)

Turmeric (Curcumin) and Obesity

Turmeric is a common spice in Asian cuisines. According to this paper from the University of Buffalo, curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) may regulate lipid metabolism and thereby help downregulate obesity.
Nutrition Reviews. December 2010; 68(12):729-38 (Alappat et al.)

Higher Intake of Soy Isoflavones May Reduce the Risk of COPD

Researchers conducted a study in Japan to evaluate the effect of isoflavones and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) on the risk for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD.)  Researchers found that patients with COPD had a lower intake of both isoflavones and PUFA than the healthy participants.  Isoflavones and PUFA, which are found in traditional Japanese foods such as soy products and fish, may have a protective benefit against COPD.
Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 2010 Jul; 54(7):909-917. (Hirayama et al.)

Seaweed Consumption Reduces Breast Cancer Risk

A study by the Department of Preventative Medicine in Hanyang University, South Korea measured the anti-breast cancer effects of seaweed consumption among South Korean women.  Gim and miyeok are the seaweeds most consumed by Koreans.  The study group consisted of 362 women aged 30-65 years old with confirmed breast cancer, and controls visiting the same hospital who were matched to cases according to their age and menopausal status. A 121-item food frequency questionnaire measured food intake.  The daily intake of gim was lower among the women with breast cancer compared to controls.  After results were adjusted for menopausal status, premenopausal women and postmenopausal women both showed inverse associations between gim intake and risk of breast cancer.
British Journal of Nutrition 2010 May;103(9):1345-53. (Yang et al.)

Traditional Korean Food May Reduce Diabetes Risk

A study conducted by the Korean Food Research Institute measured the anti-diabetic effect of kochujang, a traditional Korean food. In the study, diabetic rats were fed a high fat-diet including 5% of calories from two different kinds of kochujang powder or the equivalent amount of nutrients, for eight weeks.  Kochujang powder was made by fermenting two different kinds of soybeans, red peppers, glutinous rice and malts.  The study found that kochujang improved glucose homeostasis by reducing insulin resistance in the rats.  The diet was also found to reduce hepatic glucose output, triacylglycerol accumulation and to increase glycogen storage.
Nutrition Journal. 2009 Jul-Aug;25(7-8):790-9. (Kwon et al.)

Decreased Breast Cancer Risk with Fatty Fish

A study conducted by the Cancer Epidemiology Branch in Gyeonggi, South Korea examined the association between fish and fish omega-3 fatty acids intake with the risk of breast cancer among Korean women.  358 incident breast cancer patients and 360 controls with no history of malignant cancer were recruited and given a 103-item food frequency questionairre to determine their dietary intake of fish (fatty and lean) and omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish (eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA and docasahexaenoic acid or DHA).  The study found that high intake of fatty fish was associated with reduced risk of breast cancer in both pre- and post-menopausal women.
BMC Cancer. 2009 Jun 30;9:216 (Kim et al.)

Diet & Cancer Risk in Asian-American Women

Researchers in Los Angeles conducted a study to evaluate how diet may affect the risk of breast cancer for Asian American women.  Those who adhered most closely to the factors of a Mediterranean Diet (lower intake of meat and starches and a higher intake of vegetables and legumes, including soy) had a 35% reduced risk of breast cancer compared to a Western diet or an ethnic diet with a higher intake of meat and starch.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2009 Apr; 89(4):1145-1154. (Wu et al.)

Dietary Changes and Colorectal Cancer in Korea and Japan

Asian countries have been transitioning to a Westernized diet, which may be related to the increased incidence of colorectal cancer.  Korean researchers evaluated data regarding meat and cereal consumption in Korea and Japan, along with the incidence of colorectal cancer in those countries.  The transition in Korea is about 20 years behind Japan, but reflects a similar pattern of increased cancer with increased meat consumption and decreased cereal consumption.
Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2008 Jan; 23(1):138-140. (Lee et al.)

Increased Obesity, Chronic Disease in Thailand as Dietary Patterns Shift

The dietary intake in Thailand has changed dramatically over the last 30 years, with a trend toward increased consumption of animal fat, animal meat and convenience foods, and decreased consumption of Thai staples and side dishes.  The prevalence of childhood and adolescent obesity in Thailand is increasing, and adults are facing increased incidence of chronic disease. Today, diet-related chronic degenerative diseases are the leading cause of death in Thailand.
Public Health Nutrition. 2002 Feb;5(1A):183-9.  (Kosulwat V.)