A new study conducted by Spanish researchers showed that people who eat a Mediterranean diet containing high amounts of vegetables, fresh fruits, olive oil, fish, and nuts may be less susceptible to heart disease and stroke.
Nearly 7,500 adults who were having diabetes or other risk factors of heart disease participated in the five-year study, and they were divided into three groups. The first group had to follow a Mediterranean diet that included additional olive oil, while the second group ate a Mediterranean diet with high amounts of nuts. Both groups also received personalized advice and participated in group meetings. The last group followed a “control” diet rich in vegetables, fruits, grains, and low-fat dairy products.
At the end of the study, the researchers found that the risk of cardiovascular disease in the subjects who ate the Mediterranean diets was 28% to 30% lower compared to those who followed the low-fat diet. Only 288 of the subjects experienced a heart attack, stroke, or other forms of heart disease, or passed away over the course of the study.
One of the researchers, Dr. Miguel Angel Martinez-Gonzalez, said that it is a combination of different types of food, and not any particular ingredient, that makes a Mediterranean diet beneficial to the heart. A Mediterranean diet contains high quality fat that serves as an excellent source of calories, as well as a wide range of healthy vegetables and fruits. According to him, people who are trying to follow a healthier diet should make small changes in the beginning, such as using olive oil for cooking, drinking red wine instead of hard alcohol during meals, and going meat-free for one or two days every week.