Longest study yet of how the Mediterranean diet affects the risk of heart disease.
Although there is no set Mediterranean diet, it usually includes plenty of whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, olive oil, beans and even a little red wine.
The Mediterranean diet has already been linked to a whole range of healthy outcomes, including lower blood pressure and cholesterol, weight loss and lower risk of diabetes.
Mediterranean Diet Cuts Heart Disease Risk
The Greek study is the first follow heart disease risk for this type of diet over 10 years. Ekavi Georgousopoulou, one of the study’s authors, said:
“Our study shows that the Mediterranean diet is a beneficial intervention for all types of people–in both genders, in all age groups, and in both healthy people and those with health conditions,
It also reveals that the Mediterranean diet has direct benefits for heart health, in addition to its indirect benefits in managing diabetes, hypertension and inflammation.”
Benefits of a Mediterranean diet
The study followed 2,500 Greek adults aged between 18 and 89 between 2001 and 2012. Everyone was asked to record their dietary and lifestyle habits at the start of the study, five years in, and at the end.
In the 10 years of the study, 20% of men and 12% of women developed or died from heart disease. Heart disease includes things like strokes, heart attacks and other related diseases.
The researchers then graded people’s diets, depending on how truly ‘Mediterranean’ they were.
They found that people in the top third, who followed the Mediterranean diet relatively closely, had a 47% reduced risk of heart disease in comparison to the bottom third.
The researchers accounted for many other factors which might have been influential, like smoking, body mass index, family history and so on.
Although Greece could hardly be a more Mediterranean country, its people have shifted towards a more Western diet in the last forty years.
“Because the Mediterranean diet is based on food groups that are quite common or easy to find, people around the world could easily adopt this dietary pattern and help protect themselves against heart disease with very little cost,”
Georgousopoulou conducted the study with Professor Demosthenes B. Panagiotakos of Harokopio University. It was presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 64th Annual Scientific Session in San Diego.