For the first time researchers have identified what effect multiple, rather than just single, foods with anti-inflammatory effects have on healthy individuals.
The results of a diet study show that bad cholesterol was reduced by 33 per cent, blood lipids by 14 per cent, blood pressure by 8 per cent and a risk marker for blood clots by 26 per cent.
A marker of inflammation in the body was also greatly reduced, while memory and cognitive function were improved.
"The results have exceeded our expectations! I would like to claim that there has been no previous study with similar effects on healthy subjects", says Inger Bjorck, professor of food-related nutrition at Lund University and head of the University's Antidiabetic Food Centre.
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 fibre.
Examples of foods eaten were oily fish, barley, soy protein, blueberries, almonds, cinnamon, vinegar and a certain type of wholegrain bread.
Some of the products in the food portfolio are not yet available in the shops, but were developed specifically for the study.