The impact of the Mediterranean diet on heart health has been established and reported on in the scientific community for some time now. The previous studies, however, were focused on populations living in the region. For the first time, this new study shows that you can benefit from this diet even if you live in the countries outside of the Mediterranean region.
Researchers at the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Cambridge University in the U.K. collected data from 23,902 initially healthy people living in the United Kingdom, who followed the Mediterranean diet over a period of 12 to 17 years. The goal was to investigate how their diet affected the health of their heart.
The study revealed that in the U.K., adopting the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of developing a cardiovascular disease like heart attack and stroke up to 16%. The findings suggested that an estimated 12.5 % of cardiovascular deaths could be prevented each year if all British people followed the Mediterranean diet. This means saving 20,000 lives.
Although the study was only observational, and cause and effect relationship can not be claimed, the authors said they had adjusted for lifestyle and other factors, which could have distorted the results. So next time you go shopping, load your cart with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, fish, herbs and olive oil, and, at the risk of sounding unpatriotic, skip the cheese fondue.
This study adds to the growing body of evidence that dietary changes can help prevent the development of cardiovascular disease. They must, however, be accompanied by lifestyle changes like increased physical activity and not smoking.
The research was published in the journal BMC Medicine.