Health

MUFAs May Fight Rheumatoid Arthritis

The study found that the key lies in monounsaturated fatty acids like those found in olive oil, sesame oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, and peanut butter.

Jul. 17, 2017
By Maja Dezulovic

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A Japanese study pub­lished ear­lier this year sought to find out which part of the Mediterranean diet helps alle­vi­ate symp­toms of rheuma­toid arthri­tis.

The study, pub­lished in Clinical Nutrition, found that the key lies in monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids like those found in olive oil, sesame oil, nuts, seeds, avo­ca­dos, and peanut butter.
See more: Olive Oil Health Benefits
Up until this stage, we’ve known that the Mediterranean diet is effec­tive in reduc­ing dis­ease activ­ity in rheuma­toid arthri­tis; Matsumoto et al. from Osaka City University took it a step fur­ther and looked for the key ele­ments of the diet that make this so.

The study began in 2010 and was con­cluded in 2017. The par­tic­i­pants in the study included 208 patients with rheuma­toid arthri­tis (or RA), and 205 healthy vol­un­teers who formed the con­trol group. The par­tic­i­pants’ food and nutri­ent intake were assessed. This was done using the BDHQ (or brief self-admin­is­tered diet his­tory ques­tion­naire). Disease activ­ity scores were mea­sured using the DAS28-ESR (or 28 joints and ery­thro­cyte sed­i­men­ta­tion rates).

The results showed that MUFA (monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids) intake was lower in the RA group than in the con­trol group. Furthermore, the MUFA/SFA (SFA stands for sat­u­rated fatty acid) ratio dif­fered within the RA group. The study con­cluded that daily MUFA intake might sup­press dis­ease activ­ity in RA patients.

Monounsaturated fats also help reduce levels of bad cho­les­terol in the blood, which also decreases the risk of strokes and heart dis­ease. Eating a diet high in MUFAs has also been encour­aged as a way to reduce belly fat and assist with weight loss.

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Last year, the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology jour­nal cited that “eating a Mediterranean diet with no limit on calo­ries and plenty of olive oil is the best way to stay healthy.” For years, it has been a cul­tural norm for diets to pro­mote eating low-fat and low-calo­rie foods, and fats which form part of the Mediterranean diet enjoyed in Southern Europe have been shunned. However, other stud­ies have shown that par­tic­i­pants saw the great­est amount of weight loss eating the Mediterranean diet with olive oil as a key com­po­nent.

Aseem Malhotra, a car­di­ol­o­gist advi­sor to the National Obesity Forum, said: “A high-fat Mediterranean diet which I follow and tell my patients to not only doesn’t lead to weight gain but is also the most pro­tec­tive dietary pat­tern against heart dis­ease, cancer and demen­tia.”

Rheumatoid arthri­tis is an autoim­mune dis­ease in which the immune system destroys healthy body tis­sues. This can result in severe joint pain and exhaus­tion in patients who suffer from the dis­ease. Over time, this results in pro­gres­sive joint and car­ti­lage destruc­tion. Findings such as these may help suf­fer­ers make dietary adjust­ments that will help them in the long term.

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