Science shorts: Diets and CVD risk, protein and cognitive health in the spotlight

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Round-up on the latest health and nutrition findings in APAC

Related tags CVD Obesity mood Depressive symptoms Chronic kidney disease

This round-up looks at the latest health and nutrition research, including how poor diets are linked to a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD), how extreme reduction in animal-based protein intake could affect cognitive health, the link between prenatal folic acid supplementation and childhood obesity and more.
Triple whammy: Poor diets increase the risk of CVD by influencing obesity and depressive symptoms – China study

Poor dietary habits are significantly associated with obesity and depression, in turn increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), says a study from China.

The Healthy Eating Index (HEI)-2015, which has a maximum score of 100, was used to assess dietary quality. The higher the score, the better the diet quality of participants.

The findings, published in Nutrients, ​showed that a higher intake of greens and beans, fatty acids, and seafood and plant proteins, as well as lower consumption of sodium, refined grains and saturated fats are associated with low CVD risk.

Protein and cognition: Increased intake in older age linked with reduced risk of impairment – China data

Increasing protein intake appears to reduce the risk of cognitive impairment in older age, while an extreme decline in animal-based protein consumption could increase the risk by 48 per cent, new data from a long-term China study suggests.

In addition, the study suggests that plant-based protein may have a more substantial impact on cognitive function prior to old age than animal-based protein.

Writing in Nutrients, ​the researchers noted that unlike protein from red meats, plant-based sources are not associated with adverse neural consequences due to low-grade systemic inflammation. This could, therefore, lead to better cognition when adults reach older age.

Down in the dumplings: Korean diets dominated by flour-based and red meat products linked to greater risk of NAFLD

Koreans who consume diets dominated by noodles, dumplings and red meat have a significantly higher risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) compared to those who eat more vegetables, fish and soy products, new data from almost 45,000 people aged 40 to 69 shows.

Writing in Epidemiology, ​the researchers reported that men and women who had a high flour and meat diet were respectively 29 per cent and 55 per cent more likely to develop NAFLD.

They added that the findings were consistent with previous studies, which showed that such diets tend to contain saturated fatty acids and fructose, which damage the liver through fat accumulation.

Seafood-based omega-3 lower risk of chronic kidney disease – global study

Seafood-based omega-3 intake has been linked with a reduced incidence of chronic kidney disease, but no such association was found for plant-based sources.

Omega-3 fatty acids from seafood sources were associated with an 8 to 13 per cent reduction in chronic kidney disease (CKD) risk and slower decline of the renal function.

On the flipside, higher levels of plant-based n-3 PUFAs did not lower risk. The results were consistent across subgroups, the researchers wrote in BMJ.

Prenatal folic acid may lower risk of obesity among children born small for gestational age

Folic acid supplementation during pregnancy is associated with a lower risk of obesity among children born small for gestational age (SGA) by the time they are pre-schoolers, a new study has reported.

To examine the joint effects of prenatal folic acid, iron and multivitamin supplementation on the risk of obesity in preschoolers born SGA, a total of 8,016 pairs of mother and child from Longhua District in Shenzhen, China, were included in a 2021 study.

Findings from a series of binary logistic regression models indicated that prenatal supplementation of folic acid was associated with a lower likelihood of obesity in preschoolers born SGA.

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