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Western Diet Ups Heart, Diabetes Risk

Burger, Fries, and a Diet Soda Are Culprits in Metabolic Syndrome

Diet and Metabolic Syndrome: Study Details continued...

The Western diet followers ate refined grains, processed meat, red meat, fried foods, eggs, and soda and not much fish, fruit, vegetables, or whole-grain foods.

The prudent diet followers ate more fruits, vegetables, fish, seafood, poultry, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods.

The researchers grouped the participants in each diet group into segments, from those who ate the least amount of the foods studied to those who ate the most servings. They also looked individually at how eating fried foods, sweetened beverages such as regular soda, nuts, coffee, and diet soda affected the risk of metabolic syndrome.

The study is published in the journal Circulation, an American Heart Association publication.

Diet and Metabolic Syndrome: More Results

The development of metabolic syndrome was linked overall with eating the Western diet, even after Steffen adjusted for such variables as smoking, calorie intake, and physical activity.

Overall, eating the prudent diet did not decrease the risk of getting metabolic syndrome, which surprised Steffen. But when she looked at individual foods in the prudent diet, they found that three servings of dairy products lowered the risk of metabolic syndrome by 13%.

The prudent diet may not have produced a lot of benefit, she tells WebMD, because on average the participants didn't meet the five or more recommended servings a day of fruits and vegetables.

Second Opinion

"The finding that a Western diet, with high intakes of processed red meat and fried foods, would lead to the development of metabolic syndrome is in accordance with our traditional thinking," says Peter Sheehan, MD, an endocrinologist and member of the board of directors for the American Diabetes Association, who reviewed the study for WebMD.

Exactly why isn't known, says Sheehan. In food processing, a "common denominator" substance produced might be to blame, he says. Or it "may be people who have a tendency to [be] overweight drink diet soda."

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