A large and rigorous study has found that 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented in people at high risk if they switch to a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables, and even drink wine with meals.
The findings, published on The New England Journal of Medicine’s web site on February 25th of this year, were based on the first major clinical trial to measure the diet’s effect on heart risks. The magnitude of the diet’s benefits startled experts.
Until now, evidence that the Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of heart disease was weak, based mostly on studies showing that people from Mediterranean countries seemed to have lower rates of heart disease – a pattern that could have been attributed to factors other than diet.
Some experts have been skeptical that the effect of diet could be detected because so many people are already taking powerful drugs to reduce heart disease risk. Other experts hesitated to recommend the diet to people who already had weight problems, since oils and nuts have a lot of calories.
Heart disease experts stated the study was a triumph because it showed that the Mediterranean diet was powerful in reducing heart disease risk. “You can eat a nicely balanced diet with fruits and vegetables and olive oil and lower heart disease by 30 percent, and you can actually enjoy life,” says Dr. Steven E. Nissen, chairman of the department of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.
Source: New York Times, February 25, 2013