Study: Mediterranean Diet Reduces Cardiovascular Risks

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In the market for a heart healthy diet? In the words of television chef Rachel Ray — let’s start with some EVOO.

In recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers gathered together more than 7, 400 men and women between the ages of 55 and 80 who were at high cardiovascular risk (diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, smokers, high blood pressure, etc.) and either put them on a Mediterranean diet, or a low fat diet

Those on the Mediterranean diet were either followed a diet enriched with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), or one enriched with mixed nuts — walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts. Basically they were eating a high fat diet, as long as most of the fat was derived from olive oil, nuts, fatty fish, and vegetables. They also limited their consumption cream, butter, cold meats, duck, carbonated/sugar beverages, pastries, and a few other “no-no’s.”

Quick Facts

  • EVOO is a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids – shown to improve blood cholesterol levels
  • EVOO is a good source of phenolic antioxidants – found to guard against cell deterioration or DNA damage; and have properties that reduct inflammation and swelling of tissue in the body.
  • Walnuts are a rich source of polyunsaturated fatty acids – shown to improve blood cholesterol levels, and possibly protect agains irregular heart beats and lower blood pressure.
  • Almonds and hazelnuts are full of monounsaturated fatty acids and polyphenols which assist in reversing problems caused by cholesterol oxidizing in your arteries.

Those on the low fat diet were eating lean meats, low-fat dairy, cereals, potatoes, rice, pasta, fruits and veggies. They also avoided eating nuts, fatty meats, and the use of olive oil was discouraged.

After about 5 years of following the participants, researchers found that that those that the people eating the Mediterranean diets had reduced stroke and other cardiovascular diseases by about 30 percent compared to the low-fat dieters.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Mediterranean dietary lifestyle, check out the following resources:

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