If you’ve ever researched different diets then you’ve certainly heard of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Famously known (though unproven) as the healthiest possible diet for a long and healthy life, the “heart healthy” Mediterranean diet promotes the frequent consumption of fish, grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables while cautioning dieters to stay away from dairy products, red meat, and processed foods. If that sounds good to you, well then you may want to celebrate with a little drizzle of olive oil over your healthy snack because a recent study actually confirmed the heart-health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.
The findings were published online by the New England Journal of Medicine and reported on by NPR in 2013. The study, which took place in Spain, was conducted over the course of five years on over 7 thousand people between the ages of 55-80 who were at risk for heart disease.
There were three groups of participants in the study. Two of the groups followed a classic Mediterranean diet with the addition of either a quarter cup of extra-virgin olive oil a day or an ounce of nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts) a day. The third group followed a low-fat diet.
After 5 years of observation, analysis of the study favored the Mediterranean diet over the low-fat diet. Despite the fact that it was almost 200 calories more per day, patients who stuck with the Mediterranean diet experienced less of the aforementioned ailments than patients who followed the low-fat diet. The group that had either the extra-virgin olive oil or the ounce a day of nuts also experienced a 30 percent drop in their risk for having a heart attack, stroke, or dying from a cardiovascular cause.
But, how does the Mediterranean diet work, exactly? Well, it is assumed to lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing protective good cholesterol. It is also associated with helping our bodies process sugar and to protect aging brains.
It’s important to note that a Mediterranean diet has many variations. In the United States, we may even associate it with the restaurant Olive Garden. This is not a good example and should be avoided.
Here at Rosetta Radiology, we always want our patients to be their healthiest, so we, of course, had to share about this "heart-healthy" diet. But if your health needs extend beyond your diet, we're still always here to help. Contact us and let us know what we can do!