Second Study Shows Mediterranean Diet Healthy
A second study of the so-called Mediterranean diet has found that it helps prevent heart disease. The Mediterranean diet involves eating mostly olive oil, fruit, nuts, vegetables, and cereals, and only a moderate amount of fish and poultry.
Foods rarely eaten on the diet are dairy products, red meat, processed meats, and sweets. Wine can be consumed in moderation with meals.
Previous studies have indicated that the diet is “consistently beneficial with respect to cardiovascular risk,” researchers of the new study say. They conducted a randomized trial to test the effectivness of two types of Mediterranean diets.
A total of 7,447 participants were in one of the three groups and followed for a median of 4.8 years. Men were ages 55-80 and women were 60-80. They had no cardiovascular disease when starting the study, but they did have risk factors such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or obesity.
Diets Included Olive Oil or Nuts
Both of the Mediterranean diets were very similar, except that one included extra-virgin olive oil and the other included nuts. (The nuts used were hazelnuts, walnuts, and almonds.) No calorie restrictions were implemented.
People in the first Mediterranean group were instructed to consume 50 grams, or about 1.7 ounces, of olive oil daily. People in the second group were to eat six servings a week of nuts.
A control group of participants did not follow the Mediterranean diet, but ate a general low-fat diet.
Heart Disease Prevented in 30% of Participants
The results were that there was a “relative risk reduction” of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke of 30% among high-risk participants.
A relative risk reduction indicates how much a treatment lowers the risk of a bad result when compared a control group who did not have the treatment.
So almost one-third of people on the Mediterranean diets — either with olive oil or nuts — were prevented from getting heart disease. There was “no cardiovascular benefit” found in the group that ate a low-fat diet.
The researchers report that the “Mediterranean diet, supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts, resulted in a substantial reduction in the risk of major cardiovascular events among high-risk persons. The results support the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.”