Olive oil and nuts may be the keys to a heart healthy diet. That’s the conclusion of a large, randomized controlled trial of the Mediterranean diet. Spanish researchers recruited roughly 7,500 volunteers at high risk for heart disease. They had either type 2 diabetes or at least three other risk factors including high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, smoking, obesity or a family history of early heart disease.
There were three groups. One group was told to reduce their intake of dietary fat and given advice on how to accomplish this goal. The other two groups were assigned to a Mediterranean diet. In one Mediterranean diet group, volunteers were given extra-virgin olive oil while volunteers in the other Mediterranean diet group were given mixed nuts including walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts. They were followed for approximately five years.
Fewer Deaths from Heart Attacks and Strokes
The results were so impressive that the investigators stopped the study prematurely. That’s because both Mediterranean-type diets reduced the risk of heart attacks, strokes or cardiovascular death by about 30 percent–an amount difficult to achieve with medication. The authors attribute this benefit largely to the olive oil and the nuts in the diets. Subjects consumed roughly 4 tablespoons of olive oil or a large handful of nuts every day.
The researchers concluded that
“the results support the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.”
You can take the New York Times quiz to see how close you are to eating the diet used in the study.
To learn more about how to treat your heart and taste buds to a Mediterranean diet, you may wish to consult our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.