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Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jul;82(1):163-73.

Diet-quality scores and plasma concentrations of markers of inflammation and endothelial dysfunction.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition, Simmons College, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



Endothelial dysfunction is one of the mechanisms linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.


We assessed the association between several diet-quality scores and plasma concentrations of markers of inflammation and endothelial dysfunction.


Diet-quality scores on the Healthy Eating Index (HEI), Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI), Diet Quality Index Revised (DQI-R), Recommended Food Score (RFS), and the alternate Mediterranean Diet Index (aMED) were calculated by using a food-frequency questionnaire that was administered in 1990 to 690 women in the Nurses' Health Study (ages 43-69 y, no cardiovascular disease or diabetes). Blood collection was completed in the same year. We used regression analysis to assess the associations between these diet-quality scores and plasma concentrations of C-reactive protein, interleukin 6, E-selectin, soluble intercellular cell adhesion molecule 1, and soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule 1.


The various diet-quality scores were significantly correlated with each other; correlation coefficients ranged from 0.56 to 0.80 (all P values < 0.0001). After adjustment for age, body mass index, alcohol intake, physical activity, smoking status, and energy intake, the HEI and DQI-R were not significantly associated with any of the biomarkers, whereas the AHEI and aMED scores were associated with significantly lower concentrations of most biomarkers. The RFS was significantly associated with a lower concentration of E-selectin only. C-reactive protein concentrations were 30% (P < 0.05) and 24% (P < 0.05) lower in the top than in the bottom quintile of the AHEI and of the aMED, respectively


Higher AHEI and aMED scores were associated with lower concentrations of biomarkers of inflammation and endothelial dysfunction and therefore may be useful as guidelines for reducing the risk of diseases involving such biological pathways.

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