1. Dr. Neil D. Barnard reviews food consumption patterns in the US from 1909 to 2007 (1). This is something I've written about a number of times. The most notable change is that industrial seed oil use has increased by more than 3-fold in the last 40 years, and even more in the last 100 although he doesn't provide those numbers. Butter and lard use declined sharply. Meat consumption is up, but the increase comes exclusively from poultry because we're eating the same amount of red meat we always have. Grain consumption is down, although it peaked around 1900 so it may not be a fair comparison with today:
In the late 1800s, wheat flours became more popular and available due to the introduction of new [high-gluten] wheat varieties, [low extraction] milling techniques, and transport methods, and during this time new breakfast cereals were introduced by John Harvey Kellogg, CW Post, and the Quaker Oats Company. Thereafter, however, per capita availability of flour and cereal products gradually dropped as increased prosperity, improved mechanization, and transport (eg, refrigerated railway cars) increased competition from other food groups. [Then they partially rebounded in the last 40 years]2. Dr. S.C. Larsson published a paper showing that in Sweden, multivitamin use is associated with a slightly higher risk of breast cancer (2).
3. Soy protein and isoflavones, which have been proposed to do everything from increase bone mineral density to fight cancer, are slowly falling out of favor. Dr. Z.M. Liu and colleagues show that soy protein and/or isoflavone supplementation has no effect on insulin sensitivity or glucose tolerance in a 6 month trial (3). This follows a recent trial showing that isoflavones have no effect on bone mineral density.
4. Dr. Ines Birlouez-Aragon and colleagues showed that high-heat cooked (fried and sauteed) foods increase risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease (insulin resistance, cholesterol, triglycerides), compared to low-heat cooked foods (steamed, stewed) in a one-month trial (4). The high-heat diet also reduced serum levels of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins C and E.
5. Dr. Katharina Nimptsch and colleagues showed that higher menaquinone (vitamin K2) intake is associated with a lower cancer incidence and lower cancer mortality in Europeans (5). Most of their K2 came from cheese.
6. And finally, Dr. Zhaoping Li and colleagues showed that cooking meat with an herb and spice blend reduced the levels of oxidized fat during cooking, and reduced serum and urinary markers of lipid oxidation in people eating the meat (6).
The take-home message? Eat stewed beef with herbs, but don't pre-brown it in vegetable oil. Throw out the tofu and have some artisanal cheese instead.