People who eat a western diet heavy in meat, fried foods and refined grains have been found of facing the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, the collection of heart problems, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Authors of a new survey studied almost 10,000 people who were asked questions including 66 items related to food consumption, HealthDay reported Wednesday.
Participants' dietary preferences were categorised as either "Western-pattern" or "prudent-pattern", depending on the overall responses.
The Western diet consisted of more refined grains, processed meat, fried food, red meat, eggs and soda, and less fish, fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains.
The prudent diet was heavy on cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage, carotenoid vegetables (carrots, pumpkins), fruits, fish and seafood, poultry, whole grains and low-fat dairy.
The association involving metabolic syndrome with certain specific food items - such as fried foods, regular and diet soda, fruit drinks, nuts and coffee - was also explored.
People with the highest scores in the "Western-pattern" diet had an 18 percent increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome, compared with those with the lowest scores in this group, according to the findings of the survey published in latest issue of Circulation.
Individuals with the highest consumption of meat had a 26 percent greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome, compared with those who ate the least amount of meat. Hamburgers, hot dogs and processed meats seemed to accelerate the effect.
On the other hand, eating dairy items was found to be protective. Individuals consuming the most dairy had a 13 percent lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome, compared to those who consumed the least, the scientists said.
Fried foods such as fast foods and diet soda were also associated with metabolic syndrome, while sweetened beverages - soda and fruit drinks - as well as coffee and nuts were not.
"People should eat according to the dietary guidelines for Americans, which is a diet rich in plant foods, study co-author Lyn Steffen, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University Of Minnesota School Of Public Health said.
"I don't oppose meat, but they should consume red and processed meat once or twice a week, not once or twice a day."