Individuals who eat two or more servings of meat a day increase their risk of developing metabolic syndrome by 25 percent compared with those who eat meat twice or less per week, according to a recent study appearing in the journal Circulation.
Metabolic syndrome risk factors which contribute to the development of diabetes and cardiovascular disease include: Low levels of high-density lipoprotein or HDL “good” cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, high fasting glucose levels, high blood pressure, and elevated waist circumference. Three or more of these factors can increase an individual’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Lyn M. Steffen, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., co-author of the study and an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota, emphasizes that its fried foods as well as meat that can increase blood pressure, lower HDL and add inches to the waist. Contrasting with fried foods and soda, dairy products appeared to strengthen protection against metabolic syndrome.
According to Steffen, fried foods are often associated with fast foods and the study findings indicate a link between fast food consumption and an increase in metabolic risk factors.
Findings of the study were based on an analysis of dietary intake by 9,514 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk In Communities (ARIC) study. Steffen and team researchers investigated the associations between food intake and cardiovascular risk, emphasizing real foods eaten by real people in order to develop recommendations for healthy dietary patterns.
Steffen assessed food intake utilizing a 66-item food frequency questionnaire. From the questionnaire responses, the researchers categorized participants into a Western-pattern diet or a prudent-pattern diet based on their dietary choices.
The Western-pattern diet emphasized fried foods, red and processed meat, soda, eggs, and refined grains with little intake of whole grain products, fruit, vegetables, and fish. The prudent-pattern diet emphasized vegetables, seafood, fish, fruit, low-fat dairy, and whole grains.
Nearly 40 percent, 3,782 participants, developed three or more of the metabolic syndrome risk factors after nine years of follow-up. At baseline, study participants were aged 45 to 64, the age span at which many individuals gain weight. After adjusting for demographic and lifestyle factors, findings indicated that consumption of a Western-pattern diet was associated with the development of metabolic syndrome.
Specific foods that were linked to the risk of metabolic syndrome included meat, fried foods and diet soda. Overweight and obesity also contributed to the development of metabolic syndrome.
American Heart Association dietary guidelines for healthy Americans include: Minimize the intake of foods and beverages with added sugars; select fat-free and low-fat dairy; eat fish at least twice a week; eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole-grain foods; limit saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium; exercise regularly and maintain weight.
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