Mediterranean Diet Helps Prevent Heart Attacks
In a large study on diet, research has confirmed that the Mediterranean diet can dramatically reduce the risk of stroke, heart attacks and other cardiovascular-related events.
Large diet study on the Med diet
The research was funded by Spain’s Ministry of Health and was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The researchers 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.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
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.
Case Adams is a California Naturopath with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn our health around. As I drove home that night, I realized this knowledge should be available to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.”