Eating a calcium-rich diet along with regular exercise could lower the risk of metabolic syndrome, according to a new study from the Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago.
Metabolic syndrome refers to having three or more of a cluster of risk factors for Type 2 diabetes and heart disease including abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, low levels of "good" HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides (blood fat).
In this new study, more than 5,000 adults completed surveys about their dietary intake of calcium and their lifestyle.
Researchers found that metabolic syndrome was less common among those who got the recommended amounts of exercise and dietary calcium.
People who didn't eat calcium-rich foods regularly had a 61 percent higher risk of metabolic syndrome as compared to those who frequently consumed calcium-packed foods.
Not getting enough exercise -- at least 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week - increased risk of metabolic syndrome by 85 percent.
Previous studies have linked calcium supplements to lower blood pressure, controlling one of the risk factors involved in metabolic syndrome and heart disease.
Adults between the ages of 19 and 50 are advised to consume 1,000 milligrams of calcium every day.
Good food sources of calcium include low-fat yogurt, partly skimmed cheese, skim or 1% milk, tofu and fortified soy beverages, broccoli and almonds.
One cup (250 ml) of low-fat milk or enriched soy beverage provides about 320 milligrams of calcium.
According to Healthy Ontario, approximately one in four Canadians has metabolic syndrome.
This study was published in the November/December 2008 issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.
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