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High fiber diet shows cardioprotective benefit in women

Improved folate intake during young adulthood halves the incidence of hypertension later

Friday, April 20, 2012. An article published online on February 27, 2012 in the journal PLoS One revealed a protective effect for fiber against ischemic cardiovascular disease in women.

Peter Wallström of Lund University and his associates evaluated data from 8,139 men and 12,535 women aged 44 to 73 years who participated in the Swedish population-based Malmö Diet and Cancer cohort, which enrolled residents of Malmö, Sweden between 1991 and 1996. Interview responses and seven-day dietary records were analyzed for the intake of energy, fats, fiber, carbohydrates and other macronutrients. Participants were followed for an average of 13.5 years, during which 1,089 men and 687 women developed ischemic cardiovascular disease.

While no significant associations were found between cardiovascular disease and fat or other dietary components, women whose fiber intake was among the top one-fifth of subjects had a 24 percent lower risk of ischemic cardiovascular disease compared to those whose intake was among the lowest fifth. For men, having a fiber intake that was among the top fifth was associated with a 31 percent lower adjusted risk of ischemic stroke. "Women who ate a diet high in fiber had an almost 25 per cent lower risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease compared with women who ate a low-fiber diet," Dr Wallström affirmed. "In men the effect was less pronounced. However, the results confirmed that a high-fiber diet does at least protect men from stroke."

Although the researchers are uncertain about the reason for the gender difference, they suggest that women may consume healthier fiber sources, in the form of fruit and vegetables, compared to men, whose primary source of fiber in this study was bread. "The difference in the results for men and women shows that we need to pay more attention to gender when we conduct research on diet," Dr Wallström noted.

"These results should be interpreted with a certain amount of caution," he warned. "Almost everyone eats more saturated fat than recommended, including the participants in many other population studies. It is therefore difficult to compare recommended and high fat intake. Other types of studies that have been carried out have shown that those who limit their fat and sugar intake are at lower risk of cardiovascular disease."

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Adherence to Mediterranean Diet, Recommended Food Score predict longer life

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A report published online on December 21, 2011 in the Journal of Nutrition reveals a protective effect for two healthy diets on mortality from any cause over a 14 year average follow-up period.

A team from Australia and the UK analyzed the diets of 972 participants in the British Diet and Nutrition Survey of men and women aged 65 and older upon enrollment from 1994-1995. Four day weighed food intake records were analyzed according to their adherence to the Healthy Diet Score, which rates the intake of saturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, fruit and vegetables, pulses and nuts, sugars, cholesterol, fish, red meat and meat products, and calcium; the Mediterranean diet, which includes vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts, cereals, fish and seafood, a high monounsaturated to saturated fats ratio, dairy products, meat and meat products, and alcohol; and the Recommended Food Score which, according to the authors, "is a food-based score calculated based on the frequency of consumption of a range of foods considered to be consistent with existing dietary guidelines," including various fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and reduced fat dairy products.

Having a higher Mediterranean Diet Score was associated with a 23 percent lower adjusted risk of dying over follow-up than having a low score, and a higher Recommended Food Score was associated with a 33 percent lower risk. No association was found for the Healthy Diet Score.

"The study shows that diet quality is an important predictor of longevity among older adults," Sarah A. McNaughton and her colleagues write. "With the ageing population worldwide, the role of diet quality in improving functional status and quality of life becomes increasingly important and further research is required on the role of diet in these aspects of ageing."

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