Five servings of fruits and vegetables a day — in particular, three vegetables and two fruits — provide the greatest mortality benefit, according to an observational study and meta-analysis in Circulation.
Researchers analyzed results from the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Over 100,000 people regularly completed food-frequency questionnaires and were followed for up to 30 years. During that time, nearly a third of participants died.
After multivariable adjustment, the greatest mortality benefit was seen for five servings of produce a day, compared with two servings (hazard ratio, 0.88). Eating more than five servings a day was not associated with greater risk reductions.
2. Consume a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including leafy greens and dark orange vegetables plus good sources of vitamin C like peppers, citrus fruit, and strawberries.
3. Get most of your fat from healthy sources, like nuts and nut butters, avocados, seeds, and moderate amounts of oils. Be sure to eat a good source of the essential omega-3 fat ALA found in flaxseed, hempseed, canola oil, and walnuts.
4. Eat three cups of calcium-rich foods every day including fortified plant milks, fortified juices, tofu made with calcium sulfate, and cooked kale, collards, bok choy, or turnip greens (double the amount of greens if you eat raw greens instead of cooked).
5. Don’t shun supplements. All vegans need vitamin B12 from supplements or fortified foods. Most also need a supplement of vitamin D, at least during the winter months. You may wish to consider vegan DHA and EPA supplements. If you don’t regularly use iodized salt, it’s prudent to take an iodine supplement. Vegan.com maintains a supplements page that provides current and helpful information for all these nutrients.
The PREDICT 1 (Personalized Responses to Dietary Composition Trial 1) analyzed detailed data on the composition of participants’ gut microbiomes, their dietary habits, and cardiometabolic blood biomarkers. It uncovered strong links between a person’s diet, the microbes in their gut (microbiome) and their health.
Researchers identified microbes that positively or negatively correlate ‘good’ and ‘bad’ with an individual’s risk of certain serious conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Surprisingly, the microbiome has a greater association to these markers than other factors, such as genetics. Some of the identified microbes are so novel that they have not yet been named.
Researchers began studying close to 50,000 women in 1984 when their average age was 48 years old. They collected information about the women’s diets over the next 22 years. The women’s cognitive function was assessed at 28 or 30 years after the start of the study. At that point, 41% had good cognitive function, 47% had moderate function, and 12% had poor function. Women who had the highest long-term intake of total carotenoids were 33% less likely to have poor cognitive function and 14% less likely to have moderate cognitive function than those who had the lowest intake. The same results occurred when the researchers examined individual carotenoids.
The researchers found that people who ate avocado every day as part of a meal had a greater abundance of gut microbes that break down fiber and produce metabolites that support gut health. They also had greater microbial diversity compared to people who did not receive the avocado meals in the study.
Sharon V Thompson, Melisa A Bailey, Andrew M Taylor, Jennifer L Kaczmarek, Annemarie R Mysonhimer, Caitlyn G Edwards, Ginger E Reeser, Nicholas A Burd, Naiman A Khan, Hannah D Holscher. Avocado Consumption Alters Gastrointestinal Bacteria Abundance and Microbial Metabolite Concentrations among Adults with Overweight or Obesity: A Randomized Controlled Trial. The Journal of Nutrition, 2020; DOI: 10.1093/jn/nxaa219
Funding for the research was provided by the Hass Avocado Board and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
The researchers found that people who ate dried fruit were generally healthier than those who did not, and on days when people ate dried fruit they consumed greater amounts of some key nutrients than on days when they skipped. However, they also found that people consumed more total calories on days when they ate dried fruit.
Previous research has found that poor diet contributes to nearly half of deaths from cardiovascular disease in the U.S., with a lack of fruit being a major factor. According to the researchers, fruits provide an abundance of nutrients, including fiber, potassium and several heart-healthy bioactives.
Valerie K. Sullivan, Muzi Na, David N. Proctor, Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Kristina S. Petersen. Consumption of Dried Fruits Is Associated with Greater Intakes of Underconsumed Nutrients, Higher Total Energy Intakes, and Better Diet Quality in US Adults: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2007-2016.. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.jand.2020.08.085
This study confirms what most of us likely recommend to our patients — replace saturated fats with olive oil. The CVD prevention benefit of olive oil seems to extend to all populations, including Americans, who consume far less olive oil on average than Mediterranean populations. As with all observational studies, residual confounding might explain some of the associations, and the healthcare professionals studied may not be generalizable to other more diverse groups. However, results from the PREDIMED trial (N Engl J Med 2018; 378:e34) support this well-conducted study. Recommending routine use of olive oil seems like a no-brainer.
In a randomized, controlled trial, researchers found that eating walnuts daily as part of a healthy diet was associated with increases in certain bacteria that can help promote health. Additionally, those changes in gut bacteria were associated with improvements in some risk factors for heart disease.
Journal Reference: Alyssa M Tindall, Christopher J McLimans, Kristina S Petersen, Penny M Kris-Etherton, Regina Lamendella. Walnuts and Vegetable Oils Containing Oleic Acid Differentially Affect the Gut Microbiota and Associations with Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Follow-up of a Randomized, Controlled, Feeding Trial in Adults at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease. The Journal of Nutrition, 2019; DOI: 10.1093/jn/nxz289
If there’s one thing the standard American diet (SAD) lacks, it’s fiber. Daily recommendations are set at 25 to 30 grams, but less than 3 percent of Americans consume that much. In fact, most are getting an average of only 15 grams per day. By contrast, among more than 71,000 subjects participating in the Adventist Health Study-2, those consuming a vegan diet (5,694 subjects) consumed an average of 46 grams of fiber daily.
The study was published in the April 30 issue of the Journal of the AmericanCollege of Cardiology. Researchers followed more than 16,000 adults (mean age, 64 years) with no known coronary heart disease (CHD) or HF at baseline, comparing those who adhered to a plant-based diet with those who consumed a Southern diet, consisting of more fried and processed foods and sweetened drinks. They found that the plant-based diet was associated with a 41% lower risk for incident HF with the highest vs lowest adherence, while the Southern diet was associated with a 71% higher risk for HF with higher vs lower adherence, after adjustment for potential demographic, lifestyle, and medical confounders.
A diet that favors plant-based foods, as well as a completely vegetarian diet, modestly reduces the long-term risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in the general population provided individuals are not overweight or obese to begin with, a new community-based cohort study indicates.