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03-05-2011 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Diet influences inflammatory markers, CVD risk


Free abstract

MedWire News: Study results indicate that an individual's dietary pattern is linked to their risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) through inflammatory processes.

"Diets characterized by high-fiber, low-fat, and low-sugar foods are favorably associated with markers of inflammation and, potentially, CVD risk," say Joanna Hlebowicz (Lund University, Malmö, Sweden) and colleagues.

These results therefore support the present Nordic dietary recommendations for improving CVD-associated markers of inflammation, they add.

The team assessed dietary data and measures of lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2), C-reactive protein concentration, and white blood cell (WBC) count in nearly 5000 participants of the Malmö Diet and Cancer cardiovascular program, aged between 45 and 68 years.

Six major "food pattern" groups were identified based on the individual's major sources of food energy: many foods and drinks (n=1399), fiber bread (n=460), low-fat and high-fiber (n=755), white bread (n=713), milk fat (n=638), and sweets and cakes (n=1034).

The team showed that the fiber bread pattern was significantly associated with low mean WBC count in women (5.31 x106 cells), while the low-fat high-fiber pattern was associated with low mean Lp-PLA2 mass in women (250.64 ng/ml), and high mean Lp-PLA2 activity in men (47.58 ng/ml).

In contrast, the milk fat and sweets and cakes patterns were associated with adverse effects on inflammatory markers.

Specifically, the milk fat pattern was associated with a high WBC count in women (5.88 x106 cells) and with high Lp-PLA2 mass in men (308.03 ng/ml). In women only, the sweets and cakes pattern was associated with high WBC count (5.68 x106 cells) and high Lp-PLA2 mass (265.42 ng/ml).

The researchers note that after 13 years of follow-up, both the milk fat and sweets and cakes dietary patterns were associated with respective 2.20- and 2.14-fold increased risks for CVD in women, compared with the many foods and drinks pattern.

Writing in the Journal of Internal Medicine, they explain that "as WBC counts and Lp-PLA2 mass and activity are biomarkers associated with increased risk for CVD, it is necessary to identify means of influencing these factors."

The team concludes that the protective effect observed from the high-fiber food patterns supports the benefit of whole-grain foods with regard to risk for coronary heart disease.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Nikki Withers