Published in the renowned New England Journal of Medicine, the new study comes from Spain where 7,500 residents were tracked for five years. The ultimate finding: those who follow the Mediterranean diet, compared to a low-fat diet, had a 30% lower risk of suffering a stroke, a heart attack or any fatal heart event.
This is the best evidence so far, as it was a long and highly scientific study that honed right in on the Mediterranean diet. Many other studies on the subject just studied huge populations to identify any potential health trends. In this study, however, people were actually assigned to follow specific diets for a long period of time. Thus, we can really take these results to the bank.
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The Mediterranean diet focuses on vegetables, fish, fruit, legumes, and olive oil, with a splash of wine. It does not consist of much red meat, processed foods, or baked goods. The study broke into three groups. One followed the Mediterranean diet with one liter of olive oil a week; one followed the Mediterranean diet with 30 grams a day of walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds; and one followed a low-fat diet overall. The study participants got lots of information and advice about grocery shopping and which foods to include in their diet.
Whoever followed either of the Mediterranean diets showed a significantly reduced risk of many serious heart problems. This might be because even if you want to lose weight, your heart prefers the healthy fats from places like fish and olive oil, rather than you just eating low-fat foods.
The key here is unsaturated fats, poly- or mono-, which literally shield your heart from health problems. Time and again, we’ve written about the Mediterranean diet, and here is the rubber stamp. If you are looking to change the way you eat, you can’t go wrong with this lifestyle.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Estruch, R., et al., “Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet,” New England Journal of Medicine; published online February 25, 2013.