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Mediterranean Diet Can Reduce Heart Disease and Stroke

Posted Mar 18 2013 9:00am
From the NYT

A large and rigorous new study has found that 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 rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables, and even drink wine with meals.



The findings, published on The New England Journal of Medicine ’s web site were based on the first major clinical trial to measure the diet’s effect on heart risks. The study ended early, after almost five years, because the results were so clear. 

Rachel Johnson, a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association noted "And the really important thing — the coolest thing — is that they used very meaningful endpoints. They did not look at risk factors like cholesterol or hypertension or weight. They looked at heart attacks and strokes and death. At the end of the day, that is what really matters.” 

Scientists randomly assigned 7,447 people in Spain who were overweight, were smokers, or had diabetes or other risk factors for heart disease to follow the Mediterranean diet or a low-fat one.
The study, by Dr. Ramon Estruch, a professor of medicine at the University of Barcelona, and his colleagues assigned subjects at high risk of heart disease to three groups. 

One group was given a low-fat diet and counseled on how to follow it. The other two groups were counseled to follow a Mediterranean diet. One group assigned to a Mediterranean diet was given extra-virgin olive oil each week and was instructed to use at least 4 four tablespoons a day. The other group got a combination of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts and was instructed to eat about an ounce of the mix each day. The mainstays of the diet consisted of at least three servings a day of fruits and at least two servings of vegetables. Participants were to eat fish at least three times a week and legumes, which include beans, peas and lentils, at least three times a week. They were to eat white meat instead of red, and, for those accustomed to drinking, to have at least seven glasses of wine a week with meals.

They were encouraged to avoid commercially made cookies, cakes and pastries and to limit their consumption of dairy products and processed meats. 

Well nothing we haven't preached before but now you have the evidence and you also have scientists saying it's OK to drink wine. I am thinking they meant red wine but would be curious to know since what I read did not specify.
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