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[Study] EVOO Rich Mediterranean Diet Reduces Cardiovascular Disease Risk By 30%, Study Finds

study shows Mediterranean Diet Reduces Cardiovascular Disease Risk

[Study] EVOO Rich Mediterranean Diet Reduces Cardiovascular Disease Risk By 30%, Study Finds

If you’re an enthusiast of olives or EVOO (extra virgin olive oil, get with it), peanut butter/nuts, salmon, WINE, whole grains, and/or fruit – AKA staples in the Mediterranean diet – pop some bubbly.

A new study from the New England Journal of Medicine, released Monday, found that eating a Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of major cardiovascular events and death by 30%, which included stroke, heart attack, or death from any other CV-related causes.1

Researchers enrolled a total of 7,447 people in the study, all of whom were aged 55-80 (57% female) and considered to be at high risk for CV disease (type 2 diabetes or 3+ major risk factors)2, but didn’t have CV disease at the time of enrollment. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three diets and monitored for a median length of 4.8 years. Test diets included:

  1. a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil
  2. a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts, or
  3. a control diet, which advised the participants to eat a low-fat diet

Compared to the low-fat diet, the EVOO group was 30% less likely to experience a heart attack, stroke or any other CV-related death; the mixed nuts group came in with an equally-powerful reduction of 28%.

Participants in groups 1 & 2 were bound to the following guidelines of the Mediterranean diet, as set by the authors of the study:3

 

Recommended:

  • Olive oil (≥4 tbsp/day)
  • Tree nuts and peanuts (≥3 servings/wk)
  • Fresh fruits (≥3 servings/day)
  • Vegetables (≥2 servings/day)
  • Fish – especially fatty fish (≥3 servings/wk)
  • Legumes (≥3 servings/wk)
  • Sofrito – a sauce made with tomato, onion, garlic, and aromatic herbs, all slowly simmered in EVOO (≥2 servings/wk)
  • White meat (instead of red meat)
  • Wine with meals (optional, ≥7 glasses/wk)
Discouraged:

  • Soda drinks (<1 drink/day)
  • Commercial bakery goods, sweets, and pastries, including cakes/cookies/biscuits/custard (<3 servings/wk)
  • Spread fats (<1 serving/day)
  • Red and processed meats (<1 serving/day)


 

Implications


Makeup of the Mediterranean diet

Makeup of the Mediterranean diet

To varying degrees, we’ve known for some time that (a) foods/diets dripping with healthy mono/polyunsaturated fats (EVOO, salmon, nuts, avocado, flaxseed, etc.), (b) moderate wine consumption, and (c) high fiber intake were all heart-savers.

Unfortunately, there was no direct evidence to concretely back claims that the Mediterranean diet improved cardiovascular health. It’s always been anecdotal, citing lower rates of heart disease in Mediterranean countries than in the US (which is true – Spain, Italy, Greece, Monaco, France are all at the bottom.)45

This study should put any doubts to rest. Healthy fats are an absolute MUST for your health, and anyone who still recommends a low-fat protocol is (a) wrong, (b) misinformed, and (c) providing dated info. Fortunately, EVOO is like magic and makes everything it touches immediately delicious, so don’t act like this is anything but splendid.

It comes down to a simple re-wiring of our conventional take on nutrition. FAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU FAT and absolutely isn’t bad for you, unless it’s deep-fried, trans, sourced from processed oils, or the saturated kind found in meat/butter/spreads.

 

My Recommendation:


Drill the new rules of fat into your cranium and take after the dietary recommendations laid out above – they’re refreshingly simple, smart, and easy-to-follow.

Actively infuse EVOO, olives, salmon, fatty fish, walnuts, almonds, natural nut butters, FLAXSEEDS, chia, coconut, avocado, guacamole, and a little bit of cheese squarely into your diet. Healthy fats are absolutely DELICIOUS and they’re great at sharing their deliciousness with veggies, protein, etc. during cooking.

That said, always be aware of how much you’re eating – a little goes a long way, as fats are much higher in calories than protein/carbs.



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References, Notes, Links

  1. Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet. Ramón Estruch, M.D., Ph.D., Emilio Ros, M.D., Ph.D., Jordi Salas-Salvadó, M.D., Ph.D., Maria-Isabel Covas, D.Pharm., Ph.D., Dolores Corella, D.Pharm., Ph.D., Fernando Arós, M.D., Ph.D., Enrique Gómez-Gracia, M.D., Ph.D., Valentina Ruiz-Gutiérrez, Ph.D., Miquel Fiol, M.D., Ph.D., José Lapetra, M.D., Ph.D., Rosa Maria Lamuela-Raventos, D.Pharm., Ph.D., Lluís Serra-Majem, M.D., Ph.D., Xavier Pintó, M.D., Ph.D., Josep Basora, M.D., Ph.D., Miguel Angel Muñoz, M.D., Ph.D., José V. Sorlí, M.D., Ph.D., José Alfredo Martínez, D.Pharm, M.D., Ph.D., and Miguel Angel Martínez-González, M.D., Ph.D. for the PREDIMED Study Investigators. February 25, 2013DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1200303 []
  2. High risk included had either type 2 diabetes or 3+ of the following major risk factors: smoking, hypertension, elevated LDL cholesterol levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, overweight or obese, or a family history of premature coronary heart disease. []
  3. Table 1. Summary of Dietary Recommendations to Participants in the Mediterranean-Diet Groups and the Control-Diet Group. []
  4. WorldLifeExpectancy – Heart Disease/Country []
  5. NationMaster – Heart Disease/Country []

 

Bryan DiSanto

Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto