The Mediterranean Diet Lowers the Risk of Heart Attack and Death

A recent study has found that the Mediterranean diet lowers the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from a heart attack.  This diet is rich in extra virgin olive oil, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and cereals.  It allows moderate intake of fish and poultry, and only low consumption of dairy, red meat, processed meat, and sweets.  The diet mimics that commonly found in the Mediterranean region, where heart disease is less common than other developed countries.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, randomly divided 7,447 people into three different groups:

  1. Group 1 ate the Mediterranean diet plus 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil each day.
  2. Group 2 ate the Mediterranean diet plus a serving of walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts each day.
  3. Group 3 ate a low fat diet.

After almost 5 years of follow-up, the people in the Mediterranean groups were 30% less likely to have a heart attack, to have a stroke, or to die from a heart attack.  This study confirms other reports that have shown how diet can reduce the risk of heart disease and early death.

Mediterranean diet

Recommended                                       Minimum serving
Extra virgin olive oil                                4 tbsp/ day
Fresh fruits                                            3 servings/ day
Vegetables                                            2 servings/ day
Legumes                                               3 servings/ week
Fish (especially fatty fish)                       3 servings/ week
Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts     3 servings/ week

Sweets & pastries
Spread fats
Red & processed meats

Carl Lowe, Jr., MD

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