There are limited data on the association between dietary information and leukocyte telomere length (LTL), which is considered an indicator of biological aging. In this study, we aimed at determining the association between dietary patterns or consumption of specific foods and LTL in Korean adults.
A total of 1958 middle-aged and older Korean adults from a population-based cohort were included in the study. Dietary data were collected from a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire at baseline (June 2001 to January 2003). LTL was assessed using real-time PCR during the 10-year follow-up period (February 2011 to November 2012).
We identified two major factors and generated factor scores using factor analysis. The first factor labeled 'prudent dietary pattern' was characterized by high intake of whole grains, seafood, legumes, vegetables and seaweed, whereas the second factor labeled 'Western dietary pattern' was characterized by high intake of refined grain, red meat or processed meat and sweetened carbonated beverages. In a multiple linear regression model adjusted for age, sex, body mass index and other potential confounding variables, the prudent dietary pattern was positively associated with LTL. In the analysis of particular food items, higher consumption of legumes, nuts, seaweed, fruits and dairy products and lower consumption of red meat or processed meat and sweetened carbonated beverages were associated with longer LTL.
Our findings suggest that diet in the remote past, that is, 10 years earlier, may affect the degree of biological aging in middle-aged and older adults.