New study confirms Mediterranean diet prevents heart disease

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 26th February 2013

The much-lauded Mediterranean diet can prevent heart disease, without necessarily restricting the amount you can eat, according to a study just published in the February issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The report, written by the Spanish research group PREDIMED, was based on clinical trials that took place over a period of almost five years.

Men and women aged between 55 and 80 years of age with no heart disease, but with at least three of the risk factors for heart disease (such as type 2 diabetes, smoking, hypertension, problematic cholesterol levels, overweight or obesity, or a family history of premature coronary heart disease) took part in the study.

The participants were randomly assigned to either a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, the same diet supplemented with nuts, or a control diet.

The study found that the two groups following variations on the Mediterranean diet reduced their risk of heart disease by about 30%. These two groups also significantly reduced their risk of stroke.

The traditional Mediterranean diet is characterized by a high intake of olive oil, fruit, nuts, vegetables, and cereals; a moderate intake of fish and poultry; a low intake of dairy products, red meat, processed meats, and sweets; and wine in moderation, consumed with meals.

Australian Food News reported last year on a study being undertaken at Deakin University in Melbourne to see if the Mediterranean diet also has a positive effect on mental health. However, Australian Food News also reported last year a Spanish study that found inconclusive results for the health benefits of olive oil.

The New England Journal of Medicine has published the new study on its website.