Page last updated: September 26, 2012
Alcohol and cardiovascular disease risk – Scandinavian research

Two other studies have also emerged this month looking at diet  and cardiovascular disease risk, The Fin study looks at the importance of a Mediterranean style diet, including Moderate alcohol consumption in Finland and The Swedish study looks at the increase in fat in the diet of Northern Swedes over the last decade.
The authors of The Finstudy, who assessed  the importance of the Mediterranean diet, including moderate alcohol consumption concluded that:
‘CVDs are the leading causes of deaths in Finland being responsible for 39% of all deaths among men. Numerous CVD risk factors have now been proven to be decreased with eating habits that are in-line with the current guideline recommendations. Many interventional and epidemiological studies have found that a number of dietary patterns and light to- moderate alcohol consumption is cardio-protective. Mediterranean diet, which contains alcoholic beverages (typically red wine) add an autonomous cardiovascular benefit to this diet. It has also been reported that light-to-moderate alcohol consumption results into decrease in CVD deaths  as well as reduction in the risk of stroke.
Menotti and colleagues investigated the food intake habits and 25 year mortality from CHD risk in seven countries. Their findings revealed that intake of vegetables, fish and alcohol was inversely associated with CHD mortality. People on Mediterranean diet (MD) (high amount of vegetables, olive oil, moderate alcohol intake and fish) had lowest mortality from the seven countries included in the study. In elderly people, healthier dietary patterns like MD was associated with lower likelihood of having CVD risk factors. These findings propose that MD has an important effect in protecting CVDs. It is important that health care professionals are aware of the possible nutrient deficiency among middle-aged and older men based on their alcohol consumption levels. More attention should be paid to nutrient intake and safe levels of alcohol consumption for those who drink large amount of alcohol’.
Source: Alcohol Consumption and Dietary Patterns: The FinDrink Study Timothy O. Fawehinmi1, Jenni Iloma¨ ki2, Sari Voutilainen1, Jussi Kauhanen1. (1 Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland, 2 School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, Quality Use of Medicines and Pharmacy Research Centre, Sansom Institute, University of South Australia, Adelaide).
The study from Northern Sweden finds disturbing trends whereby BMI and fat intake has increased over the last decade. 
Reported intake of fat exhibited two significant trend breaks in both sexes: a decrease between 1986 and 1992 and an increase from 2002 (women) or 2004 (men). A reverse trend was noted for carbohydrates, whereas protein intake remained unchanged during the 25-year period. Significant trend breaks in intake of foods contributing to total fat intake were seen.
Reported intake of wine increased sharply for both sexes (more so for women) and export beer increased for men. BMI increased continuously for both sexes, whereas serum cholesterol levels decreased during 1986 - 2004, remained unchanged until 2007 and then began to rise. The increase in serum cholesterol coincided with the increase in fat intake, especially with intake of saturated fat and fats for spreading on bread and cooking.
Men and women in northern Sweden decreased their reported fat intake in the first 7 years (1986–1992) of an intervention program. After 2004 fat intake increased sharply for both genders, which coincided with introduction of a positive media support for low carbohydrate high- fat (LCHF) Atkins diet. The decrease and following increase in cholesterol levels occurred simultaneously with the time trends in food selection, whereas a constant increase in BMI remained unaltered.  These changes in risk factors may have important effects on primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Source: Associations among 25-year trends in diet, cholesterol and BMI from 140,000 observations in men and women in Northern Sweden. Nutrition Journal 2012, 11:40 doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-40.

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