A study published this week shows that following a Mediterranean diet may help reverse metabolic syndrome, a condition that afflicts up to 25 percent of adults.
The Spanish government-funded study was published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Research led by Dr. Jordi Salas-Salvadó,, professor of nutrition at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili found that while following a Mediterranean diet did not lower the odds of developing the syndrome, it did lead to a significant probability of reversal.
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The condition is a collection of risk factors for developing heart disease, including high blood pressure, blood sugar, triglycerides and low HDL-cholesterol coupled with abdominal obesity. Diagnosis can occur when the presence of three out of five risk factors are present.
In the study, those who followed a Mediterranean diet, supplemented with extra virgin olive oil, were 35 percent more likely than those on the low-fat, control diet to reverse the condition.
5,801 people aged 55-80 were put on a Mediterranean diet that included olive oil and nuts, or a low-fat diet. At the beginning of the study 64 percent of the participants had metabolic syndrome. After 5 years, 28.2 percent of those on the Mediterranean diet no longer met the criteria for the condition.
“Because there were no between-group differences in weight loss or energy expenditure, the change is likely attributable to the difference in dietary patterns,” said Salas-Salvadó,
These results support a long history of findings that sticking to a traditional diet found in the Mediterranean can support cardiovascular health.