Mediterranean diet cuts heart disease risk nearly in half

Mediterranean diet cuts heart disease risk nearly in half

Yet another study suggests that closely following the Mediterranean diet can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.

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While most previous studies focused on middle-aged people, the new study included 2,500 Greek adults between the ages of 18 and 89. The participants provided their health information each year from 2001 to 2012 and completed in-depth surveys about their dietary habits, lifestyle, and medical records at the beginning of the study, after five years, and after 10 years. The researchers then scored the participants' diets on a scale from 1 to 55 on their self-reported frequency and the level of intake for 11 food groups. The participants who closely followed the Mediterranean diet were 47 percent less likely to develop heart disease over the 10-year follow-up period.

"Our study shows that the Mediterranean diet is a beneficial intervention for all types of people — in both genders, in all age groups, and in both healthy people and those with health conditions," said study co-author Ekavi Georgousopoulou, a Ph.D. candidate at Harokopio University in Kallithea, Attica, Greece. "It also reveals that the Mediterranean diet has direct benefits for heart health, in addition to its indirect benefits in managing diabetes, hypertension, and inflammation. Because the Mediterranean diet is based on food groups that are quite common or easy to find, people around the world could easily adopt this dietary pattern and help protect themselves against heart disease with very little cost.”

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The study will be presented March 15 at the American College of Cardiology annual meeting in San Diego.

The new study confirms previous research regarding the benefits of following the Mediterranean diet. A February 2014 study published in the online journal PLOS One followed nearly 800 American firefighters to see how much they adhered to the Mediterranean diet and what, if any, benefits it had.

Those 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.

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