Eating nuts, olive oil cuts heart health risk as much as statins
'Mediterranean diet' seems to improve overall heart health, scientists find
Researchers say that eating a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in nuts, fish and vegetables can cut heart attacks, strokes and death rates in people at high risk of heart disease by as much as a third. In fact, changing the balance of foods in a diet can lessen the risk even before heart-related illness strikes.
The Mediterranean diet is high in fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts, whole grains and 'healthy' fats such as those in olive oil. There are very little red meat or dairy products in this particular diet.
The study which examined 7,500 people was halted early, after almost five years, as the results were so clear it would have been unethical not to recommend the diet to all those taking part.
The Mediterranean diet is high in fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts, whole grains and "healthy" fats such as those in olive oil. There are very little red meat or dairy products in this particular diet.
Researchers randomly assigned 7,447 people in Spain aged 55 to 80 years who were overweight, smokers, had diabetes or other risk factors for heart disease to follow the Mediterranean diet or a low-fat diet, and more than half of the test subjects were women.
Those on the Mediterranean diets got five servings of fruit and vegetables, and fish three times a week, as well as given either additional olive oil or nuts each day. They were encouraged to eat white meat rather than red, and legumes, including beans, peas and lentils, at least three times a week. Those accustomed to alcoholic beverages were meant to have at least one glass of wine a day with their meals.
Told to avoid commercially made cookies, pastries and cakes, the test subjects were also told to limit their consumption of dairy foods and processed meats.
After an "interim analysis" showing 288 people had an "event" such as a heart attack, stroke or died from a heart-related cause, the trial was stopped early after 4.8 years.
Altogether, 3.8 percent of "events" occurred in the group eating a Mediterranean diet with extra-virgin olive oil, 3.4 per cent in those on a Mediterranean diet plus nuts, and 4.4 per cent on a low-fat diet.
People eating a Mediterranean-style diet were 30 percent less likely to suffer heart attack, stroke or heart-related death compared with those on a low-fat diet, according to the findings published online by the New England Journal of Medicine.
© 2013, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Statins, Mediterranean diet, heart attack, stroke, fish
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