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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.)

Reducing Meat Intake May Cut Risk of Metabolic Syndrome

Researchers from Loma Linda University in California investigated the relationship between diet type and prevalence of the Metabolic Syndrome, a condition characterized by the presence of various risk factors (HDL cholesterol, serum triglycerides, blood glucose, blood pressure, and waist circumference). The researchers found that a vegetarian diet pattern was associated with the lowest prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome. Vegetarians were also less likely to have most of the individual risk factors.
Diabetes Care. 2011 May;34:1225-1227. (Rizzo et al.)

Diabetes Markers Improve on Veg Diet

It has been well documented that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes is significantly lower in vegetarians as compared to non-vegetarians.  It has also been documented that vegetarian diets can help treat type 2 diabetes.  Scientists at Charles University in Prague hypothesized that vegetarian diets treat type 2 diabetes through a combination of total weight loss, reduction in visceral fat, and reduction in fasting blood glucose.  They conducted a 24-week randomized, open study of 74 patients to compare the effects of two diets – conventional and vegetarian , both with the same number of restricted calories – on insulin resistance, volume of visceral fat and plasma markers of oxidative stress.  The study found that the vegetarian diet had a greater capacity to improve insulin sensitivity as compared to an omnivorous control diet.
Diabetic Medicine.  May 2011; 28:549-559 [Kahleova H et al.]

Creatine Supplementation May Improve Memory in Vegetarians

It has been shown that vegetarians have lower dietary intakes of creatine, and while the body synthesizes creatine, vegetarians have shown lower levels of muscle creatine than omnivores. Researchers from the University of Swansea and the London Ambulance Service conducted an intervention study on 121 college females, 70 of whom were either vegans or vegetarians. The participants were randomly assigned to either take a creatine supplement or a placebo before completing a series of cognition tests. While there was no significant difference in cognitive functioning between vegetarians and omnivores at baseline, the authors found that creatine supplementation improved memory in vegetarians but not in omnivores. Because this is one of the first studies to examine the role of creatine in cognitive functioning, further examination is warranted.
British Journal of Nutrition. 2011 Apr;105(7):1100-1105. (Benton and Donohoe)
 

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]

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