MONDAY, Feb. 25 (Health Day News) —- the headline read:
Score another heart-health win for the Mediterranean diet
The New York Times reported the results of the February 2012 “Mediterranean Diet” study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (and funded by olive oil-producing Spain).
- “About 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented in people at high risk if they switch to a Mediterranean diet…”
- “Eating a diet rich in olive oil, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, along with red wine, helped those at high risk for cardiovascular problems avoid heart trouble better than those eating a low-fat diet, a new Spanish study has found.”
Before we over-eat olive oil or munch excessively on hard-to-digest nuts, let’s take a look at the actual study results. In this latest Mediterranean diet study, positive results were reported – “Significant 30 percent risk reduction” – even though more people had heart attacks and died eating the so called Mediterranean diet.
There were 7,447 people in the study – divided into three groups – followed for five years:
- Mediterranean diet supplemented with one free liter of extra-virgin olive oil per week.
- Mediterranean diet supplemented with 30 grams of free nuts per day (15 grams of walnuts, 7.5 grams of almonds and 7.5 grams of hazelnuts).
- Low-fat diet (animal and vegetable).
A dietician visited the study participants (men and women) every three months. Participants in all three groups attended dietary training sessions and were provided with shopping lists, menus, and recipes adapted to each type of diet for each season of the year.
Number of deaths overall
olive oil group: 118
nut-eating group: 116
low fat control group: 114
Number of Heart Attacks:
olive oil group: 38
nut-eating group: 31
low fat control group: 37
As you can see from the above results, the highest overall mortality and highest number of heart attacks occurred in the Mediterranean olive oil group. But wait!
Number of Strokes:
olive oil group: 49
nut-eating group: 32
low fat control group: 58
The two Mediterranean groups had fewer strokes compared to the low fat group, but this should come as no surprise. People eating low fat diets have a higher risk of stroke (Walter Willett, Harvard School of Public Health).
Remember, too, that extra virgin olive oil is 15 percent saturated fat and 70 percent monounsaturated oleic acid, which the body can convert – as needed – into saturated fat (palmitic acid). Nuts, too, are high in fat. Higher natural fat diets protect against stroke!
Category: 'Bad' Science