Search Health Studies

Olive Oil, Almonds or Walnuts? All of the Above!

Scientists in Barcelona and São Paulo conducted a crossover study to compare the effects of virgin olive oil, almonds, and walnuts in lowering cholesterol in subjects with high cholesterol levels. Subjects ate a healthy “run in” diet for four weeks first, to put all participants at a similar starting place. Then, each person spent 4 weeks on each of three diets: one enriched with virgin olive oil (VOO), one enriched with walnuts, and one with almonds. LDL (“bad”) cholesterol was reduced on average 7.3%, 10.8% and 13.4% after the VOO, walnut, and almond diets, respectively, with total cholesterol and LDL/HDL ratio improving similarly. Researchers concluded that all three of these healthy foods contribute to the heart-health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet.

Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases, March 19, 2011 [Epub ahead of print]

Med Diet Reduces Risk of Metabolic Syndrome

To assess the Mediterranean Diet’s effect on metabolic syndrome, scientists in Greece and Italy conducted a meta-analysis of 50 peer-reviewed Med Diet studies (including 35 clinical trials) involving more than half a million people. Metabolic Syndrome is considered to be present if someone has three or more of the following: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, large waist circumference, low HDL cholesterol, and high triglycerides. The researchers found that the Med Diet improved all five risk factors, and overall reduced the risk of Metabolic Syndrome. They concluded that “this dietary pattern can be easily adopted by all population groups and various cultures, and cost-effectively serve for primary and secondary prevention of Metabolic Syndrome and its individual components.”

Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 15 March 2011; 57:1299-1313.

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.)

High-Phenolic Olive Oil Protects Arteries Best

Oxidized LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or “bad cholesterol”) has been shown to increase the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Oxidized LDL antibodies (OLAB) have been shown, in studies, to protect against atherosclerosis. Scientists in five European countries working as part of the EUROLIVE Study Group designed a crossover study to see whether higher polyphenol levels in different olive olis would generate more OLABs. 200 healthy men were randomly assigned to consume, in three week stints, 25mL a day (just under two tablespoons) of each of three olive oils with high, medium, and low phenolic content. The researchers found that the protective OLABs increased in direct relationship to the phenolic content of the olive oils.

Clinical Nutrition, March 3, 2011 [Epub ahead of print]

Going Veg May Improve Phosphate Control for People with Kidney Disease

People suffering from advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD) often must limit the amount of phosphorous that they consume due to the kidneys’ declining ability to filter excess phosphorous from the blood. Many high-phosphorous foods are animal derivatives, including meat and milk.  However, phosphorous is also found in plant foods such as legumes, soy, whole grains, and bran. Researchers from Indiana University tested two different diets — one milk and meat based, and one plant based – on a group of 8 patients with advanced CKD. Although the diets were designed to include equivalent amounts of phosphorous, patients exhibited lower blood phosphorous levels after 7 days of consuming the vegetarian diet. The authors believe that the body’s ability to absorb phosphorous from plant foods is limited. Adopting a plant-based diet, therefore, may help improve phosphate control in CKD.
Clinical Journal of the Am. Soc. of Nephrology. 2011 Feb;6:257-64. (Moe et al.)

MUFAs are Protective Against Heart Disease and Metabolic Syndrome

Our understanding of the role of fats in our diet is shifting from a focus on the total quantity of fat to one emphasizing the quality of fats. Scientists at the University of Manitoba carried out a thorough review of research detailing the association of mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) with cardiovascular disease and with metabolic syndrome. They concluded that MUFAs are cardioprotective and reduce the risk of obesity, particularly when they are substituted for saturated fats.
Lipids, February 10, 2011 [Epub ahead of print]

Omega-3s in Med Diet Protect Brain Health

Consistent research shows that the Med Diet helps us keep our wits about us as we age. But what explains this connection? A new French study of 1050 elderly subjects showed a strong correlation between adherence to the Med Diet and higher blood levels of healthy fats. In conclusion, the scientists credited the better cognitive function of those eating the Med way to higher levels of DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid) and lower ratios of omega-6s to omega-3s.
British Journal of Nutrition, February 2011. 8:1-10 [Epub ahead of print]

Brain MRIs show Less Disease with Med Diet

Scientists at the Taub Institute for Research in Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain (at U.C. Davis) collected high-resolution MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) data on the brains of 707 elderly New Yorkers. They then studied dietary assessments of these people from the past 5.8 years (on average), and divided the participants into three groups according to Mediterranean Diet adherence. They found that participants in the top-adherence group had 36% less evidence of cerebrovascular disease, and those in the middle group had 22% reduced odds, and concluded that “higher adherence to the Mediteranean Diet is associated with reduced cerbrovascular disease burden.”

Annals of Neurology, February 2011; 69(2): 257-68

Med Diet May Lessen Harm from Smoking

Researchers in Greece and the Netherlands collaborated to test whether adherence to the Med Diet could mitigate any of the dangers of smoking – include the harm from second-hand smoke. Based on a review of both epidemiological and lab studies showing the Mediterranean Diets protective effect against biochemical and molecular processes that lead to cancer, the scientists concluded that that the Med Diet might lessen the ravages caused by smoking. This could be especially useful to those who are the potential victims of passive smoking. 

Public Health, January 27, 2011 [Epub ahead of print]

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.)

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.)

Pages