11.24.2004

Inventor of K Rations Passes Away at 100
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The inventor of the monotonous "K rations" and also the Mediterranean Diet, has passed on at the age of 100. What is beneficial for the heart is good for the cognitive processes....

Ancel Keys, a University of Minnesota public health scientist who invented the K rations consumed by millions of soldiers in World War II, discovered that saturated fat was a major cause of heart disease and championed the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, died Nov. 20 at his home in Minneapolis. He was 100.

No cause of death was reported, but in recent years, Dr. Keys had several strokes and broke a hip. He was still at work earlier this year, analyzing data from his landmark epidemiological study, begun in 1958, of 12,000 middle-aged men living in Italy, the Greek islands, Yugoslavia, the Netherlands, Finland, Japan and the United States.

That "Seven Countries Study" provided evidence that a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, pasta, bread and olive oil and sparing of meat, eggs, butter and dairy products reduces the occurrence of heart disease.

"He was a giant in the field of nutrition in a variety of ways," said Walter C. Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health. "His studies held up in the big picture, yes. He missed some things that are important. Smoking and obesity didn't show up. But the basic conclusion is . . . the vast majority of heart disease is preventable."

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