Consumption of locally produced food without additives is associated with reduced blood pressure and visceral fat, as well as with improved mood, according to study results published in Diabetes & Metabolism.
While most previous nutrition research has focused on the effect of energy density, trans fatty acids, and sugar and sodium content on the development of noncommunicable diseases, less attention has been given to food additives. The goal of the study was to investigate the effect of the consumption of locally produced food without additives on known risk factors for noncommunicable diseases, including hypertension, glucose levels, and visceral adipose tissue.
The study cohort included healthy volunteers who were randomly allocated to 2 groups: group 1 was instructed to purchase food (cheese, sausage, fresh pasta, pastries, biscuits, and chocolate) from local producers in the province of Turin, Italy, who were selected beforehand to ensure that additives were not used; group 2 was instructed to purchase food from supermarkets.
Participants completed weekly food diaries and their adherence to the diet was checked at 3 and 6 months by telephone interview. After 6 months, participants were clinically reevaluated and serum sodium, potassium, fasting glucose, insulin, C-peptide, and creatinine levels were assessed by the same laboratory that performed baseline evaluations. State and trait anxiety, depression, and IQ were evaluated using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Beck Depression Inventory II, and Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale IV at baseline. State anxiety and depression score were assessed again at study completion.
Of 175 participants enrolled in the study, complete data were available for 159, including 89 in group 1 (64 women; mean age, 53.5±6.9 years) and 70 in group 2 (46 women; mean age, 52.5±6.5 years).
Adherence to purchasing locally produced foods was fair to excellent in the majority of group 1 (80%). The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale IV score did not differ between the groups (group 1: 112.1±10.6; group 2: 110±11.6).
At baseline, there were no differences between the groups in any clinical and laboratory features. However, after 6 months, patients in group 1 had significantly lower homeostatic model assessment scores (P =.01) and fasting glucose levels (P =.001) compared with patients in group 2.
In group 1, visceral adipose tissue significantly decreased from baseline to 6 months (P =.0061), as did systolic blood pressure (P =.001) and Beck Depression Inventory II scores (P =.0005). In comparison, in patents in group 2 there were significant increases in fasting glucose level (P =.04), C-peptide level (P =.03), and diastolic blood pressure (P =.02).
The researchers noted several study limitations, including the short follow-up period and enrollment of highly cognitive, skilled, middle-income healthy volunteers.
“Consumption of the locally produced food under study improved some of the major risk factors for [noncommunicable diseases] after 6 months,” concluded the researchers.
Migliaretti G, Ame C, Ciullo S, et al. Metabolic and psychological effects of short-term increased consumption of less-processed foods in daily diets: a pilot study [published online July 17, 2019]. Diabetes Metab. doi:10.1016/j.diabet.2019.07.002