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New study confirms benefits of Mediterranean Diet

Teresa Tanoos's picture
Another study confirms benefits of Mediterranean Diet

Numerous studies have already concluded that the so-called Mediterranean Diet is good for your health, and now a new study confirms the same. The heart-healthy diet includes foods like fish, nuts, fruits and vegetables.

For this latest study, researchers set out to compare nearly 800 American firefighters to see how much they followed a Mediterranean-style diet – and what, if any, health benefits it had. The researchers also kept track of any changes in weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels that the firefighters experienced in the prior five years.

The researchers divided the firefighters into four separate groups to compare who followed the diet closest with those who did not. As a result, they found that the men who followed it the closest had a lower risk of developing heart disease, according to Dr. Stefanos Kales, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health.

Specifically, the men who followed the diet closely had a 35 percent reduced rate of developing certain factors that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Such factors are referred to as “metabolic syndrome”, and they include having high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high triglyceride levels and a thick waist.

In addition, the firefighters who consistently followed a Mediterranean-style diet had a 43 percent lower risk of weight gain, compared with their counterparts who did not follow the diet closely.

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Published in the journal PLoS ONE on February 4, 2014, the study also found that the men who closely followed the heart-healthy diet tended to forego consuming sodas and other sugary drinks. They also tended to eat fewer sweets, more fruits and vegetables, and less fried and fast food.

Dr. Kales explained that they followed firefighters in this latest study because firefighters generally have higher rates of obesity and other risk factors for heart disease.

In the meantime, Dr. Kales added that if there were just two things he could get people to change in their diets, it would be to avoid sugary beverages and fast food.

The Mediterranean Diet would be a good start, as one study after another has confirmed that such diet is better for one’s heart and overall health. And it may even help slow down the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

The new study is yet another in a long line of research showing the benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet and lifestyle that emphasizes more plant foods and regular activity. And it may just make you swear off pasta, especially since another study from Harvard researchers last year suggests that eating pasta can make you depressed.

No matter what, it's never too late to improve your health by improving your diet.

SOURCE: PLos ONE, Modified Mediterranean Diet Score and Cardiovascular Risk in a North American Working Population, published online February 4, 2014 (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087539).