An apple a day keeps kidney stones away, study concludes

WASHINGTON Researchers revealed last week another reason to eat well: A healthy diet helps prevent kidney stones. Loading up on fruits, vegetables, nuts, low-fat dairy products and whole grains, while limiting salt, red and processed meats, and sweetened beverages, is an effective way to ward off kidney stones, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society Nephrology.

Because kidney stones are linked to higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, increased body weight, and other risk factors for heart disease, the findings have considerable health implications, authors stated.

Investigators collected information from individuals enrolled in three clinical studies: the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (45,821 men followed for 18 years), the Nurses' Health Study I (94,108 older women followed for 18 years), and the Nurses' Health Study II (101,837 younger women followed for 14 years). Eric Taylor of Main Medical Center and lead researcher assigned a score to each participant based on eight components of a DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) style diet: high intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains and low intake of salt, sweetened beverages, and red and processed meats. Individuals with higher DASH scores consumed diets that were higher in calcium, potassium, magnesium, oxalate, and vitamin C and lower in sodium.

A total of 5,645 incident kidney stones developed in the participants in the three studies. In each study, participants with the highest DASH scores were between 40% and 45% less likely to develop kidney stones than participants with the lowest DASH scores. The reductions in kidney stone risk were independent of age, body size, fluid intake and other factors.