Mediterranean Diet Lowers Death Risk for Heart Patients

New research indicates that the Mediterranean Diet reduces the mortality risk for heart disease patients more than taking statin medications.

Aug. 30, 2016
By Jedha Dening

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Being that heart dis­ease is the lead­ing cause of death world­wide, the fact that dietary habits can make such a huge impact is remark­able, though in some ways not surprising.

The Mediterranean diet, char­ac­ter­ized by high con­sump­tion of veg­eta­bles, fruit, olive oil, nuts, seeds, fish and poul­try, is well known for its many pro­tec­tive ben­e­fits from var­i­ous dis­eases such as can­cer, dia­betes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s and car­dio­vas­cu­lar disease.

The major con­trib­u­tors to mor­tal­ity risk reduc­tion were a higher con­sump­tion of veg­eta­bles, fish, fruits, nuts and monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids — that means olive oil.- Marialaura Bonaccio, Researcher

A new study, how­ever, looked at par­tic­i­pants who already suf­fer car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease (heart attacks, strokes, blocked arter­ies), which is dif­fer­ent than many stud­ies that eval­u­ate gen­eral populations.
See Also: Olive Oil Health Benefits
The study, titled Higher adher­ence to Mediterranean diet is asso­ci­ated with lower risk of over­all mor­tal­ity in sub­jects with car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease: prospec­tive results from the MOLI-SANI study,’ is not yet avail­able for full review.

Giovanni de Gaetano, head of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention at the IRCCS Neuromed Institute in Pozzilli, Italy, pre­sented the abstract of the paper at the ESC Congress in Rome on August 28, accord­ing to a press release from the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

In brief, the study was an obser­va­tional study look­ing at approx­i­mately 1,200 par­tic­i­pants out of 25,000 in the EPIC study. Food intake was eval­u­ated via a food fre­quency ques­tion­naire and the Mediterranean diet score (MDS) was used to eval­u­ate the rela­tion­ship between MedDiet con­sump­tion and total mortality.

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Only 208 deaths occurred dur­ing the 7.3‑year fol­low-up and the authors con­clude that a 2‑point increase in the MDS was asso­ci­ated with a 21 per­cent reduced risk of death.” This was even greater, 37 per­cent, when par­tic­i­pants had top-cat­e­gory adher­ence to the MedDiet.

The major con­trib­u­tors to mor­tal­ity risk reduc­tion were a higher con­sump­tion of veg­eta­bles, fish, fruits, nuts and monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids — that means olive oil,” said Marialaura Bonaccio, the lead author of the research.

Professor de Gaetano also sug­gests that the mech­a­nisms are likely related to other fac­tors that have been seen as pro­tec­tive in other dis­eases: for exam­ple, the influ­ence of a MedDiet with olive oil on inflam­ma­tory and oxida­tive stress fac­tors that ini­ti­ate and pro­mote dis­ease states.

In recent years, statins have been crit­i­cized by researchers as being inef­fec­tive and many of the stud­ies on statins have not been inde­pen­dent, but funded by phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies. And, like most med­ica­tions, statins come with adverse side effects.

Although more research will now be needed, Jeremy Pearson, asso­ciate med­ical direc­tor of the British Heart Foundation, said for The Telegraph that: This study sug­gests that even if you are already receiv­ing med­ical care, if you add a Mediterranean diet, it will have fur­ther benefit. 

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, even if you have had a heart attack or stroke is really impor­tant and con­tin­ues to ben­e­fit you.”



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