The health ben­e­fits of the Mediterranean diet have been cited in numer­ous stud­ies, and now with a new large study con­firm­ing that it pro­tects from meta­bolic syn­drome we have yet another rea­son to adopt this style of eat­ing. But why is this lat­est study impor­tant? We asked Dr. Antonis Pothoulakis, an inter­ven­tional car­di­ol­o­gist at the Iasis Clinic in Chania, Crete to com­ment.

Pothoulakis explained that the meta­bolic syn­drome is a com­bi­na­tion of abdom­i­nal obe­sity, high blood pres­sure, abnor­mal cho­les­terol, and high blood sugar. “Metabolic syn­drome is con­nected to the obe­sity epi­demic of our time, a big belly poi­sons our metab­o­lism and a poi­soned metab­o­lism can result in type 2 dia­betes, heart attacks, stroke, or sud­den death,” he says.

The new study included data from almost 535,000 peo­ple, with the con­clu­sion that a Mediterranean style diet, which includes con­sump­tion of monoun­sat­u­rated fats mainly in the form of olive oil, daily con­sump­tion of fruits, veg­eta­bles, whole grain cere­als, and low-fat dairy prod­ucts, weekly con­sump­tion of fish, poul­try, legumes, and a rel­a­tively low con­sump­tion of red meat, may reduce the risk of meta­bolic syn­drome.

Pothoulakis noted that fol­low­ing the Mediterranean diet led to a small but sta­tis­ti­cally sig­nif­i­cant reduc­tion of meta­bolic syn­drome and improve­ment in all its indi­vid­ual com­po­nents (waist cir­cum­fer­ence, blood pres­sure, high blood sugar, low HDL and high triglyc­erides).
See more: Olive Oil Health Benefits
“As these are aver­age fig­ures it means that some indi­vid­u­als fol­low­ing the Mediterranean diet could get larger improve­ments and some less or no improve­ment. But con­sid­er­ing the enor­mity of the obe­sity and meta­bolic syn­drome prob­lem, it is def­i­nitely worth­while adopt­ing the diet and olive oil, with their anti-oxi­dant and anti-inflam­ma­tory prop­er­ties,” he stressed.

Pothoulakis believes that the lat­est find­ings are great news for both the Mediterranean diet and olive oil. “The stud­ies selected were of very good qual­ity and the researchers used much “harder”, that is sci­en­tif­i­cally more accu­rate, end-points such as waist cir­cum­fer­ence, blood pres­sure and blood sugar,” he noted.

However, Pothoulakis pointed out, the Mediterranean diet and olive oil use alone can­not pro­tect us against heart attacks and stroke. “We also need to mod­ify the other two, very impor­tant lifestyle behav­iors; smok­ing and exer­cise, as well as imple­ment early and aggres­sive treat­ment of high blood pres­sure, abnor­mal cho­les­terol and high blood sugar,” he says.


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