Mediterranean Diet Most Effective for Reducing Risk of Heart Disease, Study Finds

In diets other than the Mediterranean, most weight loss benefits disappeared within a year and the risk of heart disease also rose.
May. 18, 2020 09:34 UTC
Julie Al-Zoubi
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The results of a new study pub­lished in the British Medical Journal con­cluded that the Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) was the most effec­tive diet for reduc­ing the risk of heart dis­ease.

Our study has one key mes­sage, los­ing weight, regard­less of the method, also improves related car­dio­vas­cu­lar risk fac­tors.- Gordon Guyatt, McMaster University

The research team dis­cov­ered that the MedDiet was the only diet to deliver any long-term ben­e­fits and it was par­tic­u­larly effec­tive in the reduc­tion of Low-Density Lipoprotein (also known as bad cho­les­terol) which increases the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease.

The study exam­ined the effects of 14 dif­fer­ent diets. These included both trend-based and branded diets includ­ing Atkins, Zone, DASH, low fat, Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers.

It was dis­cov­ered that in all the diets apart from the Mediterranean, most weight-loss ben­e­fits had dis­ap­peared a year after the start of the diet and the risk of heart dis­ease had also risen.

Results revealed that most of the diets led to an aver­age weight loss of ten pounds at the six-month mark as well as improved blood pres­sure. However one year on, most of the weight loss had dis­ap­peared and the risk of heart dis­ease had returned to its pre-diet level.

The Mediterranean diet emerged as the only diet effec­tive in retain­ing a mod­er­ately low­ered risk of heart dis­ease 12 months on. Co-author Gordon Guyatt, a pro­fes­sor of epi­demi­ol­ogy and bio­sta­tis­tics at Canada’s McMaster University told Olive Oil Times,

Weight man­age­ment and reduc­ing your car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease risk are impor­tant health fac­tors. Most diets lead to short-term weight loss and impor­tant car­dio­vas­cu­lar ben­e­fits, but those ben­e­fits largely dis­ap­pear by 12 months. Although weight-loss was dimin­ished, the Mediterranean diet main­tained some car­dio­vas­cu­lar ben­e­fits at 12 months.”

He said, A num­ber of stud­ies report poten­tial health ben­e­fits with a Mediterranean-style diet. The diet is known for its focus on olive oil, fruit, nuts, veg­eta­bles, legumes and whole grains. It allows for a mod­er­ate intake of fish and poul­try and rec­om­mends a low intake of dairy prod­ucts, red meat, processed meats, and sweets.”

Guyatt said the find­ings sup­port grow­ing lit­er­a­ture on diets pro­mot­ing weight loss and their rel­a­tive car­dio-pro­tec­tive ben­e­fits and con­cluded, Our study has one key mes­sage, los­ing weight, regard­less of the method, also improves related car­dio­vas­cu­lar risk fac­tors.”

Earlier this year the Mediterranean diet was named as the best over­all eat­ing plan for the third con­sec­u­tive year by a panel of nutri­tion­ists, dia­betes spe­cial­ists, heart health and weight loss experts in the US News & World Report’s annual list of top diets.

The diet was rated as the best eat­ing plan due to its rich­ness in fresh fruit, veg­eta­bles and olive oil. It was also praised for being easy to fol­low.


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