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Heart disease

Protect yourself from heart disease with the Mediterranean diet: Research proves vast benefits

Wednesday, March 06, 2013 by: PF Louis
Tags: heart disease, Mediterranean diet, benefits

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(NaturalNews) It seems health benefit rumors of the Mediterranean diet have now been confirmed by medical science. It is now evidence-based science and not merely anecdotal. Yes, that was sarcasm.

The study, "Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet" was published in the New England Journal of Medicine February 25th, 2013 and reported in the New York Times the very next day.

Mediterranean diet essentials

The Mediterranean diet is high in plant foods, including both vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes, and of course, olive oil. Nuts are consumed daily in small amounts. Unprocessed seafood and fowl are used moderately for meat with little or no red meat.

Some dairy, especially cheese is used. Moderate red wine consumption is also part of the diet. This diet is devoid of processed carbohydrates, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup. Only real whole food is consumed. No processed foods.

Study summary

The study took place throughout Spain and involved several hospitals and clinics as well as clinicians and researchers. Around 2003, they had begun accepting high heart attack and stroke risk applicants aged 55 to 80 for the study.

That included smokers and people already on meds for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes II.

According to the New York Times, the study ended early, just before five years had elapsed, because the results were so obvious the researchers considered it unethical to continue.

Almost 7,500 heart attack and stroke high risk applicants aged 55 to 80 were arranged into three different groups: One group was placed on a Mediterranean diet focusing on more extra virgin olive oil than usual. Another group used the Mediterranean diet while consuming more nuts than usual.

The third group was placed on a low fat diet that allowed all the foods and beverages that are not part of the Mediterranean diet. In other words, what many would consider a low fat standard American diet (SAD).

The two Mediterranean diet groups were discouraged from consuming sweets and pastries. All groups were monitored beyond simple surveys. Their blood and urine were screened periodically to ensure compliance within the dietary guidelines. All three groups were not encouraged to exercise or restrict their amount of consumption.

Here's the punchline from the study's conclusion that claims a 30 percent risk reduction among high risk Mediterranean dieters in both heavier than normal olive oil intake or nut consumption:

"... an energy-unrestricted Mediterranean diet, supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts, resulted in a substantial reduction in the risk of major cardiovascular events among high-risk persons. The results support the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease."

Diet wars

The study was hailed as a milestone by most for proving the worth of the Mediterranean diet, by proving a 30 percent cardiovascular event risk reduction among even high risk patients. Not everyone agreed.

Some advocates of the vegan diet with books published on the matter criticized the study harshly with comments like "all this proved is that all three diets could cause heart disease."

That was because although the risk was reduced 30 percent, there were heart attack and stroke victims sprinkled among the two Mediterranean diet groups. But remember, they were all older high risk participants.

The study's lead author, Dr. Ramon' Estruch stated "we have all learned." He and other researchers have reportedly switched to the Mediterranean diet. They are convinced enough to state that the Mediterranean diet may be even better for heart disease prevention among those who are at low risk. Looks like another research project in the works.

But what this study really proves is that abstaining from refined, processed fake foods and eating whole foods, regardless of what diet you label it, does help prevent major disease considerably.

Sources for this article include:

NY Times article http://www.nytimes.com

Essentials of the Mediterranean diet http://oldwayspt.org

The complete study from the New England Journal of Mecicine http://www.nejm.org

A list of participating researchers and facilities used in Spain http://www.nejm.org

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