Another study recently concluded the incredible benefits of the Mediterranean based diet. The study, recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at nearly 7500 individuals with major cardiac risk factors. These include hypertension, overweight, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and smoking. Any of these sound familiar?
The study was very well-designed and controlled, and carefully monitored each of 3 groups. Over a 5 year period the participants were placed in 1 of 3 groups. The first group was assigned a low fat diet consisting of reduction in both animal and plant fat. The next 2 groups were considered “Mediterranean diets” and included either daily extra virgin olive oil (4 TBSP/day) or regular consumption of nuts (3 or more servings/week) combined with the following: Fruits–3 servings daily, Vegetables–2 servings daily, Fish–3 servings or more/week (preferably fatty Fish), beans–3 or more servings/week, Sofrito–2 or more servings/week. A glass of wine with dinner was optional and only recommended if already a regular habit. For those who are unfamiliar with Sofrito, it is a traditional Mediterranean sauce which consists of tomato, onion, garlic, EVOO, and herbs.
The results were clear: After 5 years, the participants who followed either of the two Mediterranean diets showed a substantial reduction in the risk of suffering a cardiovascular death, a myocardial infarction or a stroke. How much reduction? Greater than 30%!
Once again, we see that the evidence is clear: For cardiovascular health, a diet high in whole plant foods, and ample portions of healthful fats beats a low-fat diet AND a typical American diet every time! (And some fatty fish each week may help too).