Purpose of Review: The relationship between dietary patterns and cardiovascular disease has been the subject of much research, but an important methodological consideration is the interdependence between the nutrient composition of foods and the recognition of healthy dietary patterns. This review considers some of the challenges in researching dietary patterns with implications for translation to public health promotions.
Recent Findings: A number of statistical methods have emerged for analysing dietary patterns using population dietary data. There are limitations in the assumptions underpinning food categorisation, but this research is able to consistently identify foods and dietary patterns that are positively related to health. Aligned to this activity is the ongoing development of food composition databases which has its own limitations such as keeping up to date with changing foods and newly identified components, sampling of foods, and developments in chemical analytical methods. Finally, dietary patterns form the basis for current dietary guidelines and related public health–oriented programs, but the issues raised for research (e.g. food categorisation and cuisine influences on dietary patterns) can also translate to these settings.
Summary: The study of dietary patterns in cardiovascular disease prevention presents with a number of methodological challenges relating to the way food groups are formed and the limitations of food composition databases. Added to this are new considerations for the environmental impact of recommended dietary patterns. Future research across the entire knowledge chain should target more accurate methods in a number of analytical areas.