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article imageBig data analysis reveals the optimal diet

By Tim Sandle     Sep 9, 2017 in Health
Researchers have undertaken a major review of the best diet for overall health. This review has used big data analytics to arrive at the answer, and this answer is a diet that is made up of a moderate consumption of fat and fruits and vegetables.
The analysis comes from McMaster University’s Population Health Research Institute and it involved an assessment of 135,000 people living across five continents. The research matched typical diets with life-expectancy. The application of data science found that the lowest risk of death was with people who consumed three to four servings (between 375 to 500 grams) of fruits, vegetables and legumes (such as beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas and black-eyed peas) each day. However, beyond this (that is consuming greater servings) there was little additional benefit. The results also showed that fruit intake was more strongly associated with health benefits than vegetables.
The survey also found that consuming a higher amount of fat was associated with a lower risk of death compared to lower intakes. This runs counter to some other findings about fats and health risks. This pattern was replicate across all types of fats. Also of interest is the finding that saturated fats are associated with lower stroke risk.
The biggest concern was with a diet high in carbohydrates (making up over 60 per cent of energy). Here a carbohydrate rich diet was linked with higher mortality rates. There is an interesting pattern with consumer behavior in relation to fats and carbohydrates, as one of the researchers, Dr. Mahshid Dehghan notes: “A decrease in fat intake automatically led to an increase in carbohydrate consumption and our findings may explain why certain populations such as South Asians, who do not consume much fat but consume a lot of carbohydrates, have higher mortality rates.”
The population data was taken from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology study. This survey tracks over 135,000 people from 18 low-income, middle-income and high-income countries. The study has been looking at people for over seven years. The study is also looking, through extensive data collection, at the causation and development of the underlying determinants of cardiovascular disease in populations.
What is interesting about the new analysis is that it is looking into populations from geographic regions which have not been studied before, with populations of greater diversity and income backgrounds. The research findings are reported by the authors to be globally applicable and provide evidence to inform nutrition policies. Such information will be of use to developers of health technology, such as apps that track diet and nutrition.
The research has been published in the journal The Lancet, in a paper titled “Fruit, vegetable, and legume intake, and cardiovascular disease and deaths in 18 countries (PURE): a prospective cohort study.”
More about big data analytics, data science, Diet, Food
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