`Mediterranean Diet Can Reduce Risk of Stroke and Heart Attack by 30 Percent - Olive Oil Times

Mediterranean Diet Can Reduce Risk of Stroke and Heart Attack by 30 Percent

Feb. 27, 2013
Elena Paravantes

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The lat­est results from a Spanish study show that a Mediterranean diet sup­ple­mented with olive oil or nuts can reduce the risk of hav­ing a heart attack or stroke by 30 per­cent, com­pared to a low fat diet. The study pub­lished in the New England Journal of Medicine is part of the ongo­ing Intervention Study PREDIMED, that was designed to study the effects of the Mediterranean diet on the pri­mary pre­ven­tion of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases.

The researchers divided over 7,000 par­tic­i­pants who had a high risk for car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease in three dietary inter­ven­tion groups: an unre­stricted calo­rie Mediterranean diet sup­ple­mented with extra-vir­gin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet sup­ple­mented with mixed nuts, or a con­trol low fat diet. The par­tic­i­pants were fol­lowed for almost 5 years with ques­tion­naires for mea­sure­ment of com­pli­ance to diet, bio­mark­ers of com­pli­ance (tests mea­sur­ing uri­nary hydrox­y­ty­rosol lev­els to con­firm com­pli­ance in the group receiv­ing extra-vir­gin olive oil and plasma alpha-linolenic acid lev­els to con­firm com­pli­ance in the group receiv­ing mixed nuts), as well as weight, height and waist cir­cum­fer­ence mea­sure­ments.

The researchers noted rates of heart attacks, stroke or car­dio­vas­cu­lar related deaths. The results of the study showed that the group that received the Mediterranean diet inter­ven­tion with olive oil or nuts had a 30 per­cent reduced inci­dence of major car­dio­vas­cu­lar events.

This is not the first time the Mediterranean diet has been shown to pro­tect from car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease. There have been sev­eral large obser­va­tional stud­ies that have shown that adher­ence to the Mediterranean diet sig­nif­i­cantly reduces total mor­tal­ity such as the Greek seg­ment of the EPIC Study (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) that fol­lowed over 22000 indi­vid­u­als and found that a higher degree of adher­ence to the Mediterranean diet was asso­ci­ated with a sig­nif­i­cant reduc­tion in total mor­tal­ity.


It is a well-accepted fact that the Mediterranean diet and its main com­po­nent olive oil can pro­tect from car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease. Back in 2004 the Food and Drug Administration allowed the health claim that two table­spoons of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coro­nary heart dis­ease. In the U.S. sev­eral hos­pi­tals are serv­ing a Mediterranean diet, while many doc­tors rec­om­mend this type of diet to their patients rather then the typ­i­cal low fat diet.

Antonia Trichopoulou, direc­tor of the WHO Collaborating Center for Nutrition at the Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology of the School of Medicine at the University of Athens, and expert on the Mediterranean diet, told Olive Oil Times these are not nec­es­sar­ily new find­ings but rather a strong con­fir­ma­tion of the ben­e­fits of the Mediterranean diet. This was a good study that presents proof through inter­ven­tion. It basi­cally pro­vides con­clu­sive evi­dence and set­tles the case for the Mediterranean diet once and for all” she said.

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