Spanish Test: Mediterranean Diet Shines In Clinical Study | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Spanish Test: Mediterranean Diet Shines In Clinical Study

Pour on the olive oil in good conscience, and add some nuts while you're at it.

A careful test of the so-called Mediterranean diet involving more than 7,000 people at a high risk of having heart attacks and strokes found the diet reduced them when compared with a low-fat diet. A regular diet of Mediterranean cuisine also reduced the risk of dying.

The findings, published online by The New England Journal of Medicine, come from a study conducted right in the heart of Mediterranean country: Spain.

A group of men and women, ages 55 to 80 at the start of the study, were randomly assigned to a low-fat diet or one of two variations of the Mediterranean diet: one featuring a lot of extra-virgin olive oil (more than a quarter cup a day) and the other including lots of nuts (more than an ounce a day of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts).

The Mediterranean diet is rich in fish, grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables. The diet is low in dairy products, red meat and processed foods.

In this study, funded mainly by the Spanish government, the researchers made sure people got regular training sessions in the particulars of each diet. They also checked people's actual consumption of olive oil and nuts with lab tests.

One thing the researchers didn't do was set any limits on calories or targets for exercise.

While lots of research has found benefits from the Mediterranean diet, many of the studies have observed what people have eaten and looked for associations. One of this study's strengths is that it randomly assigned people at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease to diets that stood to help then.

The study was stopped early (after a median follow-up of 4.8 years) because the benefits from the Mediterranean diet were already becoming apparent. Overall, the people consuming the diets rich in olive oil or nuts had about a 30 percent lower risk of having a heart attack, stroke or dying from a cardiovascular cause.

In absolute terms, there were about 8 of those problems for every 1,000 person-years in the Mediterranean diet groups compared with 11 per 1,000 person-years in the low-fat diet group.

How does the Mediterranean diet work? The prevailing theory is that it lowers bad cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing protective good cholesterol. It may also also help the body's ability to process sugar.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Capital Fringe Fest's 'Bethesda' Hits Close To Home

The annual Capital Fringe Festival, which aims to bring new energy and artists to the D.C. area performing arts community, is back. This year's program includes one play that hits close to home.
NPR

Economists Say Inflation Is Tame; Consumers Aren't Buying It

On paper, inflation has been low this year. But consumers buying food or fuel may disagree. Prices for beef, eggs, fresh fruit and many other foods are much higher than overall inflation.
NPR

Administration Officials Defend Funding Request To Stem Border Crisis

President Obama has asked for $3.7 billion to deal with the southern border crisis. There are predictions the number of unaccompanied children entering the U.S. could reach 90,000 by October.
NPR

NSA Implementing Fix To Prevent Snowden-Like Security Breach

A year after Edward Snowden's digital heist, the NSA's chief technology officer says steps have been taken to stop future incidents. But he says there's no way for the NSA to be entirely secure.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.