Background: The associations of different components of diet with metabolic syndrome (MetS) are largely unknown. We therefore studied the associations of intakes of selected food items and nutrients with the risk of having MetS.
Methods: The participants were a representative population sample of 1334 individuals (671 women, 663 men) 57-78 years of age. Dietary intake was assessed by a 4-day food record. MetS was defined by the National Cholesterol Education Program criteria.
Results: Consumption of vegetables, non-root vegetables, legumes and nuts berries and fish had an inverse and consumption of sausage had a direct association with the risk of having MetS in men after adjustment for age, smoking and alcohol consumption. Consumption of vegetables and non-root vegetables had an inverse and consumption of sausage had a direct association with the risk of having MetS in women after these adjustments. However, after further adjustment for maximal oxygen uptake (VO₂(max)) most of these associations vanished. Men in the highest third of consumption of berries, fish, and legumes and nuts had 49, 37 and 44% lower risk of having MetS, respectively, than those in the lowest third after further adjustment for VO₂(max). Women in the highest third of sausage consumption had a 72% higher risk of having MetS than non-consumers.
Conclusions: Consumption of legumes and nuts, berries and fish was inversely associated with MetS in men. Consumption of sausage was directly associated with MetS in women. VO₂(max) seems to be a strong confounding factor between food consumption and MetS.