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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Western Diet or Prudent Diet Contributes to Metabolic Syndrome

A recent study discovered once again that our Western diet increases the risk of getting metabolic syndrome. Of course, this is not news to us, however, I was interested to see what the people in the study were eating and what the recommendations would be for a better diet. 9,000 people were studied for over 9 years. Some ate a diet of two or more servings of meat a day (the risk for metabolic syndrome was reduced by 26% if they ate meat only twice a week and 34% increased if they drank diet soda (aspartame) as opposed to sugar soda which apparently did not boost the risk significantly. Fried foods also boosted the risk (possibly because of trans fats at fast food places and restaurants?).

“The Western diet followers ate refined grains, processed meat, red meat, fried foods, eggs, and soda and not much fish, fruit, vegetables, or whole-grain foods.

The prudent diet followers ate more fruits, vegetables, fish, seafood, poultry, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods.”

The big surprise was that there was not a big difference between the groups as far as developing metabolic syndrome, which was at about 40% of the participants. Metabolic syndrome is present if at least three markers of the following criteria are present such as a large waistline, elevated blood pressure, elevated fasting blood sugar, elevated fasting triglycerides, or reduced levels of HDL (good) cholesterol .

A reduction in risk (13%) of metabolic syndrome developing was seen in people who consumed at least 3 servings of dairy products a day.

Fried foods and processed foods were flagged as the culprits.

My comments: I'm sure they were all eating a higher fat diet in conjunction with a high carb diet. That is the Western diet, right? Yes, we do know it leads to metabolic syndrome over time. Interesting though that dairy products were protective.

I don’t think I will give up frying my eggs or veggies, but I’ve never been a fan of processed foods. I do have bacon occasionally. I have finally given up diet coke, which I started drinking recently over the last year. I always felt uneasy about drinking it and tried to limit it to once or twice a week, but I feel better now for finally having given it up!

To say that diet soda contributes to metabolic syndrome is strange and this does not mean we should instead be downing sugar sodas. It could just be that this particular link to metabolic syndrome is related to overweight people preferring diet soda and that these people are more likely to load up on other things like a side order of fries. Very overweight people are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome and maybe that is the link. Who knows? Correlational evidence is not proof of causation.

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