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Functional food synergy improves cholesterol, inflammation, memory

Posted Oct 16 2010 12:00am

Lunduniversity.lu.se - For the first time researchers have found out what effect multiple, rather than just single, foods with anti-inflammatory effects have on healthy individuals.

The results of a functional food diet study show that bad cholesterol was reduced by 33 per cent, blood lipids by 14 per cent, blood pressure by 8 per cent and a risk marker for blood clots by 26 per cent. A marker of inflammation in the body was also greatly reduced, while memory and cognitive function were improved.

“The results have exceeded our expectations! I would like to claim that there has been no previous study with similar effects on healthy subjects”, says Inger Björck, professor of food-related nutrition at Lund University and head of the University’s Antidiabetic Food Centre.

Forty-four healthy, overweight older adults between the ages of 50 and 75 took part in the diet study. For four weeks they ate foods which are presumed to reduce low-grade inflammation in the body, a condition which in turn triggers metabolic syndrome and thus obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The test diet was high in antioxidants, low-GI foods (i.e. slow release carbohydrates - aka low glycemic index), omega-3 fatty acids, whole grain products, probiotics and viscous dietary fiber. Examples of foods eaten were oily fish, barley, soy protein, blueberries, almonds, cinnamon, vinegar and a certain type of wholegrain bread. Some of the products in the food portfolio are not yet available in the shops, but were developed specifically for the study.

Instead of studying each food concept separately they were combined in the same test diet with the aim to achieve, if possible, a more significant reduction of the harmful inflammation. Such a synergetic conception concerning food with focus on anti-inflammatory qualities is new – and resulted not only in moderate levels of inflammatory markers but also attenuated a number of other risk factors for the metabolic syndrome and improved cognitive performance.

We believe in the idea of combined effects. Drug or specific products with health claims affect only one or maybe a couple of risk factors. By a synergy, or combination, of food you can in a simple and striking way affect many risk parameters simultaneously explains Inger Björck.

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