Thursday, June 26, 2008

What Makes A Healthful Diet? Large Epidemiological Studies Are Finding Out

A study due in the upcoming July 15 issue of the American Heart Association journal Circulation will be reporting that: 1
"Greater adherence to the prudent pattern [of eating] may reduce the risk of cardiovascular and total mortality, whereas greater adherence to the Western pattern may increase the risk among initially healthy women."
What did the researchers define as a "prudent pattern"?
"High prudent pattern scores represented high intakes of vegetables, fruit, legumes, fish, poultry, and whole grains, whereas high Western pattern scores reflected high intakes of red meat, processed meat, refined grains, French fries, and sweets/desserts."
It was a large prospective evaluation of the diets of 72,113 women who participated in the Nurses Health Study. They were followed for 18 years.

The prudent diet reduced risk of cardiovascular death by 28% when compared to the Western diet. It reduced risk of all-cause death by 17%.

The Western diet increased risk of cardiovascular death by 22%, cancer death by 16%, and all-cause death by 21%.

These findings are similar to those reported earlier this year in the same journal.2 In that study, the diets of 9,514 participants of the ARIC cohort (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study) were evaluated over the course of 9 years. Those men or women who ate a Western pattern - high in meat and fried foods - had a higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a constellation of risk factors for heart disease. These include insulin resistance, diabetes, hypertension, high blood lipids, high uric acid levels, and obesity - especially weight carried around the waist.


1 Dietary Patterns And Risk Of Mortality From Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, And All Causes In A Prospective Cohort Of Women, Circulation, 2008

2 Dietary Intake And The Development Of The Metabolic Syndrome. The Atherosclerosis Risk In Communities Study, Circulation, 2008