New Study: Eat This to Reduce Your Risk of Metabolic Syndrome

Updated: Jun. 11, 2024

One in three Americans has this often lifestyle-induced condition, but many don't realize its gravity. One doable diet change could turn the table, says new research.

It’s reported that metabolic syndrome affects a quarter of the world’s adult population, which is a figure that’s been growing in recent years as populations age. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that often accompany or raise the risk for each other, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke.

However, Johns Hopkins cardiologist Chiadi E. Ndumele, MD, MHS says many people don’t even realize they have metabolic syndrome, let alone its risks.

Metabolic syndrome can be identified if a patient has at least three of these symptoms:

The good news is that metabolic syndrome is largely preventable. A new study from Irish biomedical researchers highlights diet changes you can make to reduce your risk.

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The June 2024 study published in Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome followed 980 Irish adults aged 60 years and older for five years to determine how certain nutrition choices play into metabolic syndrome. Of the participants, 67% had metabolic syndrome when the study began, with that number rising to 74% at the five-year follow-up.

Of the participants who developed metabolic syndrome over that time, the researchers identified several common risk factors, including increased triglyceride concentration and waist circumference.

They also identified that eating certain nutrients could lower the risk of metabolic syndrome as well as its associated conditions. For example, participants who ate a higher protein intake and greater monounsaturated fatty acids (healthy fats that come from plant-based sources such as olive oil), had a lower risk of metabolic syndrome. A higher protein intake also was associated with a lower risk of abdominal obesity and hypertension.

The researchers also measured the quality of the protein participants ate using a protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score, which compares a food’s amino acid composition to what our bodies require. They observed that participants with metabolic syndrome consumed less “high-quality” protein foods, such as meat, dairy and soy products, and more “low-quality” protein foods, such as breads and sweets.

As Dr. Ndumele says, understanding how common and serious metabolic syndrome is can be a vital first step toward taking control of your health. By incorporating more healthy fats and proteins rich in essential amino acids in your diet, you’ll reduce your risk of a host of associated health problems—and that doesn’t have to come at the cost of your taste buds! Check out the 10 “perfect proteins” and our list of healthy fats to start taking your wellness into your own hands.