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Med diet could target asthma

5th April 2007

A Mediterranean diet rich in fruit, nuts and vegetables appears to be effective in preventing asthma and respiratory allergies, a study on the Greek island of Crete has found.

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Nearly 700 rural children were assessed on the island, where asthma and allergies are rare. UK, Greek and Spanish researchers found those with a diet rich in fruit and vegetables were protected against both conditions.

Experts say the study, in published in the journal Thorax, adds to existing evidence that diet can help control asthma symptoms.

The research was carried out by experts from the UK's National Heart and Lung Institute, the University of Crete, Venezelio General Hospital, in Crete, and the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology, in Barcelona.

The aim was to discover why children in some parts of Europe get asthma symptoms like wheezing, or allergic rhinitis, caused by dust mite or pet allergies.

The parents in Crete were asked to estimate how often the children, aged 7-18, ate 58 different foods across nine categories: vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish, cereal, dairy products, meat, poultry and margarines and oils.

Around 80% of the children ate fresh fruit and around 65% ate fresh vegetables at least twice a day.

Skin allergies are relatively common in Crete - meaning that, in tests, children react to allergens such as dust mites, but respiratory reactions are rare.

 

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