Previous research has shown that a Mediterranean style diet, rich in olive oil, fruits, vegetables, and legumes can protect from metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Exercise also has beneficial effects for this particular syndrome.

Spanish researchers from the University Hospital of Reina Sofia of the University of Cordoba and the Institute of Salud Carlos III, examined how the Mediterranean diet in combination with exercise would effect the health-related quality of life in metabolic syndrome patients.

For this study, published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology, 45 sedentary men and women from the ages of 50 to 66 years with Metabolic syndrome were randomly assigned to one of two groups; either following a hypocaloric, normal protein Mediterranean diet, or following the same diet plus a moderate to high intensity exercise program for 12 weeks. A number of questionnaires and tests were conducted to measure quality of life and metabolic syndrome risk factors.

The results showed that the Mediterranean diet only group had improvements in several factors such as physical function, vitality, general physical health among others, they lost weight and also had improvement in some metabolic syndrome factors. The group that also followed an exercise program had greater improvement in health-related quality of life components and, as expected, lost more weight.

A Mediterranean diet with a moderate to high intensity exercise program can not only decrease risk factors of metabolic syndrome but may improve quality of life for those already presenting the syndrome. In addition it can be used as an effective weight loss tool.

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