Risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes in two groups of Hispanic Americans with differing dietary habits

H Alexander, L P Lockwood, M A Harris, C L Melby
Journal of the American College of Nutrition 1999, 18 (2): 127-36

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to determine if Hispanic Seventh-Day Adventists (SDAs), who typically eat a diet lower in fat, saturated fat and protein, and higher in complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber than the usual omnivorous diet, exhibit lower risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and Type 2 diabetes compared to Hispanic Catholic omnivores.

METHODS: Anthropometric characteristics, dietary intake, blood pressure, serum lipids, glucose and insulin, as well as plasma ascorbic acid and vitamin E concentrations, were measured in two groups of Hispanic study participants residing in Denver, Colorado: 74 SDA study participants (x age: 42+/-1.5 y) and 45 Catholic participants (x age: 44+/-2.2 y).

RESULTS: The SDAs reported lower dietary intakes of total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol and higher relative intakes of carbohydrate and dietary fiber compared to their Catholic counterparts. The SDAs exhibited significantly lower body mass index (BMI = 27.2+/-0.6) and waist-to-hip ratios (WHR = 0.84+/-0.01) compared to the Catholics (BMI = 31.4+/-1.1; WHR = 0.88+/-0.01). The SDAs, compared to the Catholics, had lower fasting insulin (11.4+/-0.6 vs. 18.9+/-3.1 microu/ml) and glucose concentrations (88.6+/-1.1 vs. 104.1+/-5.4 mg/dl). The SDA Hispanics, compared to the Catholic Hispanics, exhibited significantly lower values for systolic blood pressure (SBP = 1102 vs. 118+/-3 mm Hg), serum total cholesterol (STC = 198+/-5 vs. 214+/-6 mg/dl) and serum triglycerides (TG = 152+/-12 vs. 232+/-27) and higher serum concentrations of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C = 44.7+/-1.3 vs. 39.1+/-1.4 mg/dl) and ascorbic acid (1.14+/-0.08 vs. 0.87+/-0.07 mg/dl). Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and vitamin E concentrations were not significantly different between groups, but the SDAs exhibited lower ratios of STC/HDL-C and LDL-C/HDL-C.

CONCLUSION: Hispanic American SDAs, who eat a plant-based diet, exhibit a more favorable blood lipid profile, lower blood pressure and lower risk for Type 2 diabetes compared to Hispanic American Catholics, who do not eat a plant-based diet.

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