The Mediterranean diet pertains to food preparations that are enriched with olive oil, nuts, and grains, fruits and vegetables. In addition, this type of diet consists more of fish and dairy products and less of meat. This specific diet originates from the countries Greece and Italy and has been recognized around the world for its beneficial effects on health.
According to a recent medical report published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the Mediterranean diet may help in reducing the risk for heart attack and stroke. The study was sparked by earlier research efforts indicating an association between this type of nutrition with lowered heart attack incidence. However, previous studies only involved smaller study populations, as well as short observational periods. The authors of the report were interested in conducting a randomized trial to examine the actual effectiveness of the Mediterranean diet as compared to a control diet consisting of low-fat food items on preventive heart attack and stroke.
Using a study population of approximately 7,447 individuals, the study participants were randomly assigned to either one of three groups. The first group followed a Mediterranean diet that was supplemented with olive oil, the second group followed a Mediterranean diet that consisted of mixed nuts, whereas the third group was given a control diet that mainly contained low-fat food items. At the same time, the study participants attended educational sessions that provided information on the nutritional value of various food items. The study participants were also monitored for the occurrence of heart attack and stroke, as well as death for nine years.
The results of the study showed that approximately 288 study participants suffered from heart attack and stroke within the study period. Around 96 of the 288 individuals came from the group that followed the olive oil-supplemented meals, whereas 83 came from the group that followed the nuts-enriched meals. On the other hand, 109 individuals originated from the group that followed the low-diet nutritional scheme. Statistical analysis showed that the number of cases of heart attack was significantly lower among those who followed the Mediterranean meals, regardless of whether it was supplemented with olive oil and nuts.
The report emphasized the positive effects of the Mediterranean-style meals in reducing the risk of heart attack, which was observed after an extended period of time. The researchers who conducted the study found that following a nutritional regimen that integrated olive nuts and/or nuts can prevent cardiovascular diseases, including coronary heart disease and stroke. Although there were differences within each meal group that was following the Mediterranean-style of nutrition, the general trend of the results showed that indeed, the risk of heart attack was lower compared to the group that consumed low-fat meals.
This recent medical report shows strong evidence that a certain types of food items may help in lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases. One strong advantage of the study was that it involved a very large number of individuals from different study centers. In addition, the follow-up period of nine years was long enough to monitor any changes and events that could have happened to the study participants. This report may be helpful to both physicians and patients who are interested in finding effective ways in preventing heart disease.