The authors of a recent study tested the hypothesis that overall nutritional quality influences the relationship between alcohol consumption and the risk of high blood pressure. The report was based on data from the National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey in the US and two other studies in China.
In general, its name for a "high quality" diet for Chinese consumers was one with higher amounts of fruits, vegetables and beans, while for Caucasians and Hispanics it was one with more whole grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts. "Inferior" diets have mainly been those with a higher intake of red meat products.
For comparisons with abstainers, subjects who reported fewer than seven drinks per week for total alcohol were rated as “light”, while those who reported seven to 21 drinks per week were rated as “moderate” drinkers. Those who reported more were labeled "heavy" consumers.
The paper concludes that light alcohol consumption in subjects on a high-quality diet was significantly associated with a reduced risk of high blood pressure in Caucasians. The risk of high blood pressure was also not significantly higher among Caucasians, Chinese and Hispanics with increasing alcohol consumption.
In contrast, the risk of hypertension was linearly significantly higher with low-quality diet-related diets, with alcohol consumption increasing in all groups except African Americans.
ISFAR reviewers viewed this as a generally well-conducted study, but were concerned that the authors may not have adequately adjusted socioeconomic status (SES), a factor strongly related to nutritional quality. The authors included in their analyzes whether the subjects had a high school diploma or not, but no adjustments were made for occupation, income or other important indicators of disadvantage. These can be important as it has been shown that patients with lower SES consistently have poorer diets.
We are therefore not sure whether diet alone is the reason why alcohol consumption is associated with a lower, higher or no effect depending on the type of diet. In addition, no results are shown to indicate whether there were differences when the beverage consumed was beer, wine, or spirits, and there were insufficient data on drinking patterns.
"Alcohol is usually consumed with meals," the authors begin with their abstract saying. Apparently, however, they do not have any data on whether the drink was consumed with or without food for the present analyzes.
All of these factors can affect the effects of alcohol on the risk of hypertension.
Finally, some ISFAR members were unhappy with the term "quality of nutrition" which was based on the inclusion or exclusion of certain foods that can be very important to taste. One member said: "We trust that diets recommended as" high quality "are not the ones that have had their taste removed."
To read the full review, click here.
These reviews are published with permission from the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research.
Click here for all the reviews of the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research