Large Diet Study Proves Mediterranean Diet’s Cardiovascular Benefits
The research was published today by the New England Journal of Medicine by researchers who conducted a large scale landmark study called the Spanish PREDIMED (PREvención con DIeta MEDiterranea) trial.
The study enrolled 7,447 people between 55 and 80 years of age, of which 57% were women. In a randomized manner, the participants were given either a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, or a control diet – which included advice to reduce fats according to American Heart Association guidelines.
The participants were followed for an average of 4.8 years during the trial, and their cardiovascular event histories were measured, along with a stratification (a break out) of risk factors to enable a clear understanding of the role of the diet versus other possible factors.
Those who were on the Mediterranean diet with olive oil had a 30% decreased incidence of cardiovascular events. Those on the Med diet with nuts had a 28% decreased incidence of cardiovascular events.
However, within those events were another surprising result. The Mediterranean diet with the mixed nuts – many of which were walnuts – had nearly half the incidence of strokes.
Remember too, that the control group was given low fat advice by physicians according to the American Heart Association guidelines. This means that the control group’s diet was likely better than a typical Western diet. This of course means that the Mediterranean diet is compared to a typical Western diet would show even more dramatic results.
Other studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet is not only a heart-healthy diet, but significantly reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, as reported by Realnatural News in a previous article.
The Mediterranean diet is rich in grains, fruits and vegetables and low in red meat. This type of diet provides various phytonutrients that provide antioxidant benefits. Oxidative stress has been shown to be at the root of artery disease.
Both nuts and olive oil provide additional nutrients that are heart healthy – notably omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts and other nuts, as well as monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil.
Extra virgin olive oil is oil from olives that have been pressed mechanically at lower heats. This yields fewer radicals and more heat-sensitive polyphenols.
This fact was confirmed in another element of the PREDIMED study, published last month, wherein the researchers found that the polyphenols in olive oil produce increased health benefits in the diets of the more than 7,000 participants. The researchers stated that, “The consumption of olives and olive oil was a differentiating factor in the phenolic profile of this Spanish population compared with other countries.”
Estruch R, et al. Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet. NE Jour. Med. 2013. Jan 25. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1200303
Tresserra-Rimbau A, Medina-Remón A, Pérez-Jiménez J, Martínez-González MA, Covas MI, Corella D, Salas-Salvadó J, Gómez-Gracia E, Lapetra J, Arós F, Fiol M, Ros E, Serra-Majem L, Pintó X, Muñoz MA, Saez GT, Ruiz-Gutiérrez V, Warnberg J, Estruch R, Lamuela-Raventós RM. Dietary intake and major food sources of polyphenols in a Spanish population at high cardiovascular risk: The PREDIMED study. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2013 Jan 16. doi:pii: S0939-4753(12)00245-1. 10.1016/j.numecd.2012.10.008.