Eat your vegetables!

A burger a day?
With a diet soda, please!
With a diet soda, please!Courtesy ebruli

Researchers from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health have found that adults who eat two or more servings of meat a day increase their risk of developing metabolic syndrome by 25% compared with those who eat meat twice a week. The study, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association also linked a greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome with eating fried foods and drinking diet soda.

What is metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is a group of cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk factors including:

  • elevated waist circumference (a waist measurement larger than 35 inches for women or 40 inches for men);
  • high blood pressure:
  • elevated triglycerides (the chemical form in which most fat exists in food and in the body);
  • low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol;
  • and high fasting glucose (blood sugar) levels.

If a person has three or more of these risk factors, their risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease increases.

The study

The U of M findings came from a study of 9,514 participants from four U.S. communities in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study , funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The researchers divided the group based on an assessment of their food intake. One group ate a "Western-pattern diet" with many refined grains, processed meat, fried foods, red meat, eggs and soda, and an overall lack of fish, fruit, vegetables and whole grain products. Another group ate a "prudent-pattern diet" with vegetables, fruit, fish and seafood, poultry and whole grains, and low fat dairy.

After following the the participants for nine years, almost 40% of study participants had three or more risk factors for metabolic syndrome. When researchers analyzed the results based on specific foods, meat, fried foods, and diet soda were red flags for an increased risk for metabolic syndrome. The good news? They found that regular consumption of low-fat dairy products was beneficial in avoiding the same risk factors.

The authors acknowledge that more research is needed to determine how these specific foods, particularly diet soda, raise risk factors.

The lesson? Follow a balanced diet, include low-fat dairy, exercise, and eat your vegetables!

Sources and additional information:
"Dietary Intake and the Development of the Metabolic Syndrome. The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study." Pamela L. Lutsey, Lyn M. Steffen and June Stevens. Circulation; published online Jan 22, 2008.

University of Minnesota Academic Health Center

American Heart Association

Posted by Meredith Craven, a communications assistant in the Academic Health Center Office of Clinical Research at the University of Minnesota

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

aaron0's picture
aaron0 says:

If you need some motivation on cutting down on your meat intake you should watch this video: http://meat.org

posted on Wed, 01/30/2008 - 12:04am
mcraven's picture
mcraven says:

A study released yesterday in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience could offer an explanation for the link between diet soda and obesity. Researchers found that rats on diets including saccharin (an artificial sweetner) gained more weight than rats on sugary diets.

According to an article in today's Los Angeles Times "the calorie-free artificial sweetener appeared to break the physiological connection between sweet tastes and calories, driving the rats to overeat."

posted on Mon, 02/11/2008 - 12:54pm
flinch619's picture
flinch619 says:

it really took research to figure that its bad to eat meat and fried foods with soda?


posted on Wed, 02/13/2008 - 8:07pm
LEE's picture
LEE says:

I think that eating too much meat may be bad because you also need the nutrient of the vegtables too. So you can balance the two together. Plus eating meat and fried foods with soda isn't really good if you eat it more than two servings. It's okay to eat fast food once in a while, but eating it everyday don't you get tired of eating all those food. Cook your own food once in a while. Eat vegetables and fruits or whatever else is healthy.

posted on Wed, 02/20/2008 - 11:05am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

It's ok to eat a little fast food. But it shouldn't be your meal every day!

posted on Sun, 02/17/2008 - 2:54pm
andyshadexx's picture
andyshadexx says:

sometime health stuff make me confuse. what to eat and what not to eat it just crazy

posted on Thu, 02/21/2008 - 8:51pm
nelson.robin's picture
nelson.robin says:

man fast food is bomb but it can also slow you down and make you gain weight faster... eatting fast food everyday would not be healthy for you at all

posted on Sun, 03/02/2008 - 6:44pm
porscha2008's picture
porscha2008 says:


posted on Thu, 03/06/2008 - 11:25am

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