Is it time you adopted a Mediterranean diet?
A major Spanish study comparing the Mediterranean diet – a diet high in healthy fats, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and fish – to a reduced fat diet for people at high risk of cardiovascular problems significantly “reduced the incidence of major cardiovascular events” such as stroke and heart attack.
In fact, the findings were so dramatically tilted toward the Mediterranean diet that the study was stopped after just less than five years “on the basis of the results of an interim analysis,” the researchers reported in an article recently published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The study followed 7,447 people randomly assigned to three groups; one group followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, a second group followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts, and the third group was assigned a control low fat diet.
The trial began in October 2003. The researchers followed the participants and compared the groups based on heart attacks, strokes and all deaths due to cardiovascular causes.
“In this trial,” the researchers wrote, “an energy-unrestricted Mediterranean diet supplemented with either extra-virgin olive oil or nuts resulted in an absolute risk reduction of approximately three major cardiovascular events per 1,000 person-years, for a relative risk reduction of approximately 30 percent, among high-risk persons who were initially free of cardiovascular disease.”