We all know that a balanced mediterranean style diet is good for us, but recent research has shown that it may be as good as preventive medicine in reducing cardiovascular incidents.
A Mediterranean diet, composed of a lot of vegetables and olive oil, with little meat and sweets, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease up to 25 percent according to a new study carried out by researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (United States).
In this research, published in the Journal of the Medical Association Network Open, the team also explored why and how a Mediterranean diet could mitigate the risk of heart disease and stroke by examining a panel of 40 biomarkers, which represent new and established biological contributors to heart disease.
Biomarkers in blood
“Our study has a strong public health message: the modest changes to the known risk factors of cardiovascular disease, particularly those related to inflammation, the metabolism of glucose and insulin resistance, contribute to the long-term benefit of a mediterranean diet on the risk of cardiovascular disease,” explains the main author Shafqat Ahmad.
The new research is based on data from more than 25,000 women healthcare professionals who participated in the ‘Study of Women’s Health’ of the United States. Participants completed questionnaires regarding diet and food intake, provided blood samples to measure biomarkers and were followed during 12 years.
The primary outcomes analyzed in the study were the incidence of cardiovascular disease, defined as early events of heart attack, stroke, coronary arterial revascularization and cardiovascular death.
Benefits similar to preventive medications
The team classified participants according to low, medium or high mediterranean diet intake. They found that 428 (4.2 percent) of the women in the low group experienced a cardiovascular event in comparison with 356 (3.8 percent) in the middle group and 246 (3.8 percent) in the high group, which represents a relative risk reduction of 23 percent and 28 percent respectively, a benefit that is similar in magnitude to preventive medications.
The team noted changes in the signs of inflammation (representing a 29 percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease), the metabolism of glucose and insulin resistance (27.9 percent) and the rate of body maximum (27.3 percent).
The team also found connections with high blood pressure, various forms of cholesterol, branched-chain amino acids and other biomarkers, but discovered that this represented less than the association between the Mediterranean diet and risk reduction.
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