The studies reviewed in class all dealt with the impact of diet on cardiovascular disease or risk factors, such as high cholesterol.
One study examined the effect of fish consumption and levels of inflammatory markers in men and women from Attica, Greece. Fish consumption was assessed by food frequency questionnaires and a variety of inflammatory markers were assayed from serum samples. Fish consumption was associated with a decrease in inflammatory markers over the period of the investigation.
A second study looked at the association between polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFAs) consumption and both fatal ischemic heart disease and non-fatal myocardial infarction in the elderly. Higher plasma levels of PUFAs was inversely associated with fatal ischemic heart disease in the cohort, but was not associated with non-fatal myocardial infarction.
The third study examined the effects of garlic extract on plasma lipid profiles in normotensive and hypertensive individuals with high cholesterol. Each participant served as their own control before receiving the garlic extract for a period of four months. The garlic extract, equivalent to about 10 grams per day, was found to decrease blood lipids and cholesterol.
After the break, we delved into the role that immigrants and their native foods played in shaping American cuisine, how they made due with what they could find here in the way of foodstuffs, and what impact that had on agriculture and the food industry in the United States.
To illustrate this point, we watched a scene from the movie The Big Night in which two brothers from Italy are trying to make it as resturanteurs in America. The patrons are expecting spaghetti and meatballs or, at the very least, a side of pasta with everything, including the special risotto prepared so expertly by the chef Primo.
We also listened to excerpts from NPR's series called Hidden Kitchens: the sound of Ojibwa tribes gathering wild rice in canoes in Minnesota, Brazilian cab drivers buying traditional fare from under a tarp in a parking lot in the wee hours of the morning, and tales of the Chili Queens of San Antonio.