Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean Diet 

Researcher in Spain found that the supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts reduced incident of major cardiovascular events - or at least they point to the advantages of Mediterranean diet for those at high risk for heart disease, according to a study published online today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

All 7,447 people (57 percent women) in the study were at high risk for heart disease at the start, but none had experienced a cardiac event - a heart attack or stroke.

In the experiment conducted earlier this year, each was randomly assigned to one of three dietary plans: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil in place of ordinary olive oil; a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts - one serving a day of walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts instead of the Mediterranean diet's recommended three or more servings per week; or a control diet in which participants were simply advised to reduce dietary fats.

Mediterranean Diet 101

Clinical dietician Jackie Topol from New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City said: "The interesting thing about this study is that most people think, `Oh a low-fat diet is good,' but this is saying it's more than just changing your fat intake, it is the quality of the nutrients and the synergy of all the nutrient rich foods.

"The Mediterranean diet includes a lot of foods that have a lot of antioxidants in them, Omega-3 fatty acids, and those things are very good for your health. Just taking fat out of your diet won't give you those things, and that is why it's so beneficial," he added.

Topol pointed out that Mediterranean diet is less restrictive than some other plans.

The Mediterranean diet stresses healthy fats, plant-based foods, and whole grains - specifically eating plenty of olive oil, fruit, vegetables, and nuts; moderate amounts of fish and chicken; limited amounts of red meat; and drinking wine with meals.

Several reports have also associated adherence to the Mediterranean diet with lower risk of heart disease and cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke, as well as death from such events. Less a traditional diet than a style of eating, the Mediterranean diet has also been linked to better brain health, and lower incidence of cancer.

"I think there's a lot of room for creativity. It is more inclusive and tells you what you can have. Eat more of this and less of this, and a lot of variety within each of those things," she said, adding that everyone can find something that will work for them within this.


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