US Pharm. 2008;33(4):86.


Metabolic syndrome--which is characterized by risk factors for cardiovascular disease that include diabetes, hypertension, elevated triglycerides, low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good" cholesterol), high fasting glucose levels, and increased waist size--can be triggered in adults who eat two or more portions of meat a day. According to research published in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association, adults who reduce their meat consumption to twice a week can lower their risk of developing metabolic syndrome by 25%.

In reaching their conclusion, the researchers used a 66-item food frequency questionnaire to study the food intake of nearly 10,000 patients. Based on the results, subjects were divided into two groups. One group, the "Western-pattern diet," was heavy on refined grains, processed meat, fried food, red meat, eggs, and soda; the other group, known as the "prudent-pattern diet," favored primarily vegetables, fruit, fish, poultry, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.

A nine-year follow-up study showed that approximately 40% of the participants had three or more risk factors for metabolic syndrome. "One surprising finding was that while it didn't increase the risk of metabolic syndrome, there was no evidence of a beneficial effect of consuming a prudent diet," commented Lyn M. Steffen, PhD, MPH, RD, co-author of the study and an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota.

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