A new study from researchers at Lunds University in Sweden have investigated the combined effect of a specific diet rather than focusing on single components. The results are quite staggering, and eating their diet show a reduction of cholesterol by 33%, blood lipids by 14%, blood pressure by 8% and risk marker for blood clots and inflammation in the body was greatly reduced while memory and cognitive function were improved.
These are quite impressive results, and it also show how it’s necessary to consider the diet as a whole instead of focusing only on single elements. No previous study has managed to produce similar effects on healthy subjects. They don’t know what specifically triggered the positive effects, but that’s also the idea behind it, that it’s the interaction of food together which is important and not each single component. Maybe the joint effort of healthy food is greater than the sum of its parts.
On a question as to how much meat the participants consumed in the test diet Maria Johansson replied:
The subjects consumed lean meat and lean ham. Meat intake was restricted maninly due to the fact that the active diet contained proteins from other sources e.g. fat fish, soy, whey. Usually the subjects had one sandwich with lean ham for lunch and for dinner meat was served about two times per week.
This is most probably within the guidelines of 300 grams of red meat per week as set forward by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research in their 2007 report. It would have been interesting to see what the results had been if the study had been performed using a completely plant based diet.
Tthe diet used was called the “Active Diet” which includes a number of food features with recognized physiological effects. The categories they focused on can be summarized as follows:
- Low glycemic index (ex. viscous fibe-rich muesly, cinnamon, vinegar),
- Cholesterol-lowering (ex. plant stanols, soybeans/soy protein, almonds),
- Antioxidants/anti-inflammatory (cinnamon, blueberries, omega 3 fatty acids),
- Probiotics and prebiotics (Lactobacilli, viscous dietary fibers),
- Whole grain (dietary fiber, antioxidants, bioactives),
The Control diet was non-vegetarian, contained limited amounts of the active components and was formulated according to Swedish nutrition recommendations. In the study alcohol was not excluded, but limited.
The study has a politically explosive power, emphasize Inger Björck, professor of food-related nutrition at Lund University and head of the University’s Antidiabetic Food Centre. Björck also states that:
“We hope that these results on healthy subjects will inspire more intense preventive efforts in society.”
I really hope so as well!
A video with a presentation going through the study is available here.
A summary of the study is given below:
Find out which preventive effect can be obtained on established risk markers by combining food concepts with an expected positive impact on inflammation.
A diet combining foods capable of reducing risk markers may result in an improved overall effect
Forty-four healthy, overweight people between the ages of 50 and 75 took part in the diet study. For four weeks they ate foods which are presumed to reduce low-grade inflammation in the body, a condition which in turn triggers metabolic syndrome and thus obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The test diet was high in antioxidants, low-GI foods (i.e. slow release carbohydrates), omega fatty acids, wholegrain products, probiotics and viscous dietary fiber. Examples of food the test subjects were eating are: barley, soy protein, blueberries, almonds, cinnamon, vinegar and a certain type of wholegrain bread and oily fish (and meat 2 times per week as mentioned in the article).