Newsbriefs: Processed Meats; Leafy Greens; Med-Style Diet; MIND Diet; Soymilk

Processed Meats May Raise Breast Cancer Risk

A large-scale meta-analysis has linked eating processed meat to an increased risk for breast cancer in postmenopausal women. The analysis, which was published in the February 2018 European Journal of Cancer, analyzed recent research on 262,195 women along with data from previous studies that involved nearly 1.4 million women. The results showed that postmenopausal women who ate processed meat (including hot dogs, bacon, sausage, and cold cuts) had a 9 percent higher risk of getting breast cancer than women who did not eat processed meat. The women who ate the most processed meat (averaging more than 9 grams, or about a third of an ounce, per day) had a 21 percent higher risk. However, no association was found between red meat and breast cancer.

Leafy Greens Tied to Better Cognitive Function

Eating about one serving per day of leafy green vegetables may protect against age-related memory decline, according to a study published Dec. 20, 2017 in the journal Neurology. The study participants, ages 58 to 99, underwent memory evaluations at the study’s outset and at regular intervals throughout the follow-up period of 4.7 years. Their intake of leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, collard, mustard, and turnip greens, Swiss chard) varied from an average of less than one serving a day to 1.3 servings a day. Participants who ate the most leafy greens were estimated to have a memory age about 11 years younger than those who consumed the fewest leafy greens.

Med-Style Diet Linked With Lower Risk of Frailty

Study findings suggest that following a Mediterranean-style diet, which is rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts and low in processed foods and red meat, may reduce your risk of frailty. The analysis (Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Jan. 11, 2018) included 5,789 participants with a mean age of 60. Participants whose diets were most similar to a Mediterranean-style diet were less than half as likely to become frail over a four-year period than those whose diets were least similar. Frail older adults are more likely to have health problems, including fractures, hospitalizations, nursing home placement, disability, and dementia. 

MIND Diet May Help Protect Brains of Stroke Survivors

The MIND diet may help slow cognitive decline in stroke survivors, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in January 2018. Stroke survivors are twice as likely to develop dementia compared with the general population. The MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean-style and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets. In the study, stroke survivors who most closely followed the MIND diet had a substantially slower rate of cognitive decline. To adhere to the MIND diet, eat at least three servings of whole grains, a green leafy vegetable, and one other vegetable each day. In your weekly diet, include five servings of nuts, more than three servings of beans, at least two servings of poultry and berries, and at least one serving of fish.

Soymilk Tops Other Non-Dairy Milks in Protein

Researchers who compared the nutritional profiles of four popular non-dairy milks found that soymilk was the best choice for its protein content. The researchers, who published their findings in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, compared the nutrients found in unsweetened almond, soy, and rice milks and coconut-based dairy-free beverages. Soymilk was found to be the most comparable to cow’s milk in terms of overall nutrient balance. The comparison showed that an 8-ounce serving of soymilk provides about seven to 12 grams of protein and about 95 calories. Almond milk was lowest in calories—about 36 calories per serving—but it provided just 1.5 grams of protein per serving. Rice milk contained about 0.5 grams of protein per serving, and dairy-free coconut beverages contained no protein. 

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