Background: Healthful dietary patterns are associated with cardiovascular disease risk factors in Western populations. However, a consistent healthful dietary pattern across major Asian ethnic groups has yet to be identified.
Objective: We aimed to identify a posteriori dietary patterns for Chinese, Malay, and Indian ethnic groups in an urban Asian setting, compare these with a priori dietary patterns, and ascertain associations with cardiovascular disease risk factors including hypertension, obesity, and abnormal blood lipid concentrations.
Methods: We used cross-sectional data from 8433 Singapore residents (aged 21-94 y) from the Multi-Ethnic Cohort study of Chinese, Malay, and Indian ethnicity. Food consumption was assessed using a validated 169-item food-frequency questionnaire. With the use of 28 food groups, dietary patterns were derived by principal component analysis, and their association with cardiovascular disease risk factors was assessed using multiple linear regression. Associations between derived patterns and a priori patterns (aHEI-2010-Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010, aMED-alternate Mediterranean Diet, and DASH-Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) were assessed, and the magnitude of associations with risk factors compared.
Results: We identified a "healthy" dietary pattern, similar across ethnic groups, and characterized by high intakes of whole grains, fruit, dairy, vegetables, and unsaturated cooking oil and low intakes of Western fast foods, sugar-sweetened beverages, poultry, processed meat, and flavored rice. This "healthy" pattern was inversely associated with body mass index (BMI; in kg/m2) (-0.26 per 1 SD of the pattern score; 95% CI: -0.36, -0.16), waist circumference (-0.57 cm; 95% CI: -0.82, -0.32), total cholesterol (-0.070 mmol/L; 95% CI: -0.091, -0.048), LDL cholesterol (-0.054 mmol/L; 95% CI: -0.074, -0.035), and fasting triglycerides (-0.22 mmol/L; 95% CI: -0.04, -0.004) and directly associated with HDL cholesterol (0.013 mmol/L; 95% CI: 0.006, 0.021). Generally, "healthy" pattern associations were at least as strong as a priori pattern associations with cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Conclusion: A healthful dietary pattern that correlated well with a priori patterns and was associated with lower BMI, serum LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and fasting triglyceride concentrations was identified across 3 major Asian ethnic groups.