Health

Diet with Olive Oil Can Reduce Heart Risks, and Weight, Research Shows

Mar. 9, 2011
By Elena Paravantes

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According to a review of 50 stud­ies with over one half mil­lion par­tic­i­pants pub­lished in the Journal of The American College of Cardiology, adher­ence to the Mediterranean diet is asso­ci­ated with reduced risk of meta­bolic syn­drome. The term meta­bolic syn­drome refers to a group of risk fac­tors that increase the risk of heart dis­ease, dia­betes and stroke. Some fac­tors include high blood pres­sure, low levels of the good HDL cho­les­terol and high blood sugar levels.

In this par­tic­u­lar study, the researchers not only con­firmed that fol­low­ing a Mediterranean style eating pat­tern reduces the risk of this syn­drome, but it is also asso­ci­ated inde­pen­dently with a smaller waist cir­cum­fer­ence and lower triglyc­eride levels, also meta­bolic syn­drome risk fac­tors. The researchers men­tion that a pos­si­ble expla­na­tion for these find­ings involve the antiox­i­dant and anti-inflam­ma­tory effects of the Mediterranean diet as a whole but also its indi­vid­ual com­po­nents and specifi­cally olive oil, fruits, veg­eta­bles, whole grains, and fish.

According to lead inves­ti­ga­tor Demosthenes Panagiotakos, Ph.D., asso­ciate pro­fes­sor in Biostatistics-Epidemiology of Nutrition, Department of Science of Dietetics — Nutrition, Harokopio University of Athens and Christina-Maria Kastorini, MSc, Ph.D. cand., the Mediterranean diet is one of the best-known and well-stud­ied dietary pat­terns, which has been shown to be asso­ci­ated with decreased mor­tal­ity from all causes. “To the best of our knowl­edge, our study is the first work that has sys­tem­at­i­cally assessed, through a large meta-analy­sis, the role of the Mediterranean diet on meta­bolic syn­drome
and its com­po­nents,” Panagiotakos said.

He also sug­gests that better eating seems to be an effec­tive and afford­able means for pre­vent­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases, and all pop­u­la­tions and var­i­ous cul­tures can easily adopt this dietary pat­tern. “The Mediterranean diet can be adopted by other pop­u­la­tions groups by edu­cat­ing people, espe­cially from child­hood and for this, the role of dieti­tians and teach­ers is of cru­cial impor­tance”, Panagiotakos explained to Olive Oil Times today.

One issue that comes up at the men­tion of the Mediterranean diet is the high fat con­tent and its effect on body weight. Panagiotakos said that although there hap­pens to be a con­tro­versy on this, he would rec­om­mend the Mediterranean diet as a weight loss tool. “I have pub­lished some work show­ing that the Mediterranean diet can be used as a means for weight man­age­ment and there are many other works sug­gest­ing the same,” he men­tioned in an email to Olive Oil Times. In a recent study pub­lished last month, Panagiotakos and his col­leagues eval­u­ated past stud­ies and reported that the Mediterranean diet was not found to cause weight gain and can be a useful tool to reduce body weight, espe­cially when the diet is fol­lowed for six months or more.

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