Too much meat, fried foods and diet soda increases the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, according to a new study.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk factors including elevated waist circumference, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, good cholesterol and high fasting glucose levels. The presence of three or more of the factors increases a person's risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Researchers assessed the dietry intake of 9,514 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk In Communities (ARIC) study.
Using a 66-item food frequency questionnaire responses the researchers categorized people by their dietary preferences into a Western-pattern diet and prudent-pattern diet.
Western-pattern diet gravely includes refined grains, processed meat, fried foods, red meat, eggs and soda, and light on fish, fruit, vegetables and whole grain products, while the prudent diet included cruciferous vegetables (e.g., cabbage, radish and broccoli), carotenoid vegetables (e.g., carrots, pumpkins, red pepper, cabbage, broccoli and spinach), fruit, fish and seafood, poultry and whole grains, along with low-fat dairy.
They also assessed associations with individual food items: fried foods, sweetened beverages (regular soda and fruit drinks), diet soda, nuts and coffee.
Over a period of nine years, 3,782 (nearly 40 percent) of the participants showed three or more risk factors for metabolic syndrome.
Healthy adults consuming two or more servings of meat a day had 25 percent increased risk compared with those who eat meat twice a week.
"Fried foods are typically synonymous with commonly eaten fast foods, so I think it is safe to say that these findings support a link between fast-food consumption and an increase in metabolic risk factors," said 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.
"After adjusting for demographic factors, smoking, physical activity and energy intake, consumption of a 'Western' dietary pattern was adversely associated with metabolic syndrome."
"One surprising finding was while it didn't increase the risk of metabolic syndrome, there was no evidence of a beneficial effect of consuming a prudent diet either," she added.
The team found that meat, fried foods and diet soda were all significantly associated with increased risk of metabolic syndrome, but consumption of dairy products was beneficial as it provided protection against metabolic syndrome.
However, the study did not address the mechanisms involved in the increased risk of metabolic syndrome.
The study appears in Journal of the American Heart Association.