08/09/2015

Low-fat dairy foods consumption and yogurt related to lower risk for developing metabolic syndrome

This investigation was conducted as part of the PREDIMED study which was designed to examine the impact of consuming a Mediterranean-style diet on prevention of cardiovascular disease. A total of 1868 men and women between 55 and 80 years of age were followed for a median of 3 years during which time dietary analyses were conducted and clinical assessments evaluated

Metabolic syndrome is a term used to describe a cluster of co-occurring conditions which include hypertension, high blood sugar, centrally adiposity, and abnormal circulating cholesterol levels. Compared to healthy individuals, people with metabolic syndrome have much higher risks of developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Although its etiology is complex, metabolic syndrome is primarily caused by a combination of obesity and inactivity. It is also linked to insulin resistance, which means that a person’s cells do not fully respond to insulin, a hormone that normally signals cells to clear glucose from the blood.

Consequently, blood glucose levels remain high even when seemingly enough insulin is produced. This can eventually lead to diabetes. Whereas aggressive weight loss involving caloric restriction and exercise is typically the first line of defense in preventing and treating metabolic syndrome, many researchers have become interested in understanding if various dietary components might help in this regard. For instance, a growing literature suggests that dairy foods might be especially helpful. However, which types of dairy products and whether they are helpful in all segments of the population are not well understood. To help bridge this research chasm, a collaboration led by Drs. Nancy Babio and Jordi Salas-Salvadó, director of the Human Nutrition Unit in the Rovira i Virgili University and Principal Investigator of the Spanish Network CIBERobn, studied a large group of elderly Spanish individuals with elevated risk of cardiovascular disease. You can find details of their study and its results in the October 2015 issue of The Journal of Nutrition.

This investigation was conducted as part of the PREDIMED (Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea) study which was designed to examine the impact of consuming a Mediterranean-style diet on prevention of cardiovascular disease. In this study, however, the researchers focused specifically on the relationship between dairy food intake and development of metabolic syndrome. A total of 1868 men and women between 55 and 80 years of age were followed for a median of 3 years during which time dietary analyses were conducted and clinical assessments evaluated. None of the subjects had been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome or cardiovascular disease at the start of the study, although they all had one or more risk factors.

By the end of the study, nearly 50% of the study participants had been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. Compared to those who ate the lowest amount, people who had consumed the highest levels of dairy products were 28% less likely to develop metabolic syndrome. When types of dairy products were investigated, the researchers identified low-fat dairy, low-fat yogurt, whole-fat yogurt, and low-fat milk as being the most protective. When types of dairy product were analyzed in regarding to each metabolic syndrome features, the yogurt and especially whole yogurt was associated to lower risk of developing different metabolic syndrome components. The relationship with cheese consumption was the opposite: people who consumed the most had the highest risk of developing metabolic syndrome during the study.

Reference:  Babio N, Becerra-Tomás N, Martínez-González MÁ, Corella D, et al. “Consumption of yogurt, low-fat milk, and other low-fat dairy products is associated with lower risk of metabolic syndrome incidence in an elderly Mediterranean population”. The Journal of Nutrition.


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