- Many nutrition studies were published in 2022, with some unearthing surprising findings.
- Insider has picked out seven of the most interesting discoveries from the year.
- Butter might not be as unhealthy as we thought, and red wine drinkers were found to have less fat in a study.
Scientists published myriad diet and nutrition studies in 2022, bringing to light surprising connections between what we eat and drink and our health.
It turns out butter might not be as unhealthy as we thought, people who drink red wine have less stomach fat than liquor-drinkers, and there are even more reasons to eat bread.
Below are seven things we learned about diet and health in 2022.
1. Eating a wide range of protein may reduce the risk of high blood pressure
Eating a greater variety of high-protein foods like beans, seafood, whole grains, and lean meat may help lower the risk of high blood pressure, according to a study published in March in the journal Hypertension.
Researchers compared the eating habits of 12,117 Chinese adults to their blood pressure over a median of six years of follow-up, Insider’s Gabby Landsverk reported.
People who ate four or more protein sources were 66% less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who consumed only one or two.
2. Butter and full-fat dairy may be healthier than previously thought
Foods like butter have long been thought of as unhealthy due to their high saturated fat content and their links to poor heart health, but research published in Scientific Reports in August suggests certain types of saturated fat could improve health.
Moderate amounts of a saturated fat called C15:0, found in butter and full-fat dairy, may actually reduce the risk of disease and improve health and wellbeing, according to research by Stephanie Venn-Watson, a public health researcher and veterinary epidemiologist.
Years of research on Navy dolphins found a similarity between the animals’ risk of age-related illness and humans’, which led to the findings on C15:0, Landsverk reported.
3. Fiber from whole grain bread may be better for reducing heart disease risk than fruits and veggies
Fiber is an important part of a balanced diet and can be found in array of foods.
However, a study from March suggests that the fiber in whole grains may be even more heart-healthy than that in fruit and vegetables, Landsverk reported.
Fiber sources like dark bread, bran, and cereals (like oats) may help lower inflammation and heart disease risk, according to a study on 4,125 adults published in March in JAMA Network Open.
4. A Mediterranean-style diet may reduce preeclampsia risk in pregnancy, particularly for Black people
Preeclampsia is a serious pregnancy complication with long-term effects on heart health, which is characterized by severe high blood pressure and organ damage.
However, a Mediterranean-style diet may reduce the risks, particularly in Black people, according to research published in April in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
The Mediterranean diet prioritizes fresh fruit, vegetables, olive oil, grains, fish, nuts, and beans.
5. Eating 2 servings of fish per week is linked to an increased skin cancer risk
Fish has long been known to have lots of health benefits, such as lowering cholesterol and balancing blood sugar, but a study published in June in the journal Cancer Causes and Control also found a link between eating two servings a week and increased skin cancer risk.
Fish such as tuna can contain toxic mercury, arsenic, and other chemicals linked to cancer, as Landsverk reported.
But it can still be part of a healthy diet and more research is needed, the researchers said.
6. Red wine drinkers have less stomach fat than liquor or beer drinkers
Red wine drinkers have less stomach fat than those who drink beer, white wine, or liquor, a study published in the journal Obesity Science and Practice in February suggests.
The researchers found that red wine drinkers had less visceral fat, which wraps around the abdominal organs and is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome.
However, the health risks of drinking alcohol still outweigh any potential benefits, registered nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert told Insider.
7. Vegetarian women are more likely to have hip fractures than meat-eaters
Vegetarian women are more likely to suffer hip fractures as they age than meat-eaters, according to a study published in BMC Medicine in August.
Researchers studied data from more than 26,000 women aged 35 to 69, collected over a 22-year period, and found that vegetarians were a third more likely to break a hip than those who regularly ate meat.
Possible reasons include such women having a lower BMI on average or nutritional deficiencies, researchers said.