A new study emphasizes the fact that a Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, less red meats and unhealthy fats can prevent death and chronic diseases related to the heart.

The study involved over 20 thousand participants and the evidence showed that those individuals who strictly followed a Mediterranean diet reduced their vulnerability toward CVD. Participants with low adherence to the diet had higher chances to suffer a heart disease.

Mediterranean diet
The benefits of the Mediterranean diet have been analyzed in several investigations, considering that it is full of antioxidant-rich elements. Image credit: www.longevitycookbook.io

The research was led by Dr. Nita Forouhi of the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom and was published in the journal BMC Medicine.

Dr. Forouhi and her team focused on studying how following a Mediterranean diet affect the risk of developing CVD. They also calculated how many deaths and cases related to CVD could be prevented in the U.K. if citizens follow this diet.

The Mediterranean diet consists of fish, poultry and a moderate amounts of red meat. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains are essential to this diet, and red wine is accepted if the person drinks it with moderation.

The team used data from 23,902 healthy adults to get to their conclusions. The participants were part of the EPIC-Norfolk Study, a center that studies more than three thousand British and the link between their diets, lifestyle, and cancer.

The research involved 12 to 17 years of follow-up where participants had to complete frequent questionnaires regarding what they were consuming to determine if they were following the Mediterranean diet. The item was based on a 15-point score on guidelines from the Mediterranean Diet Foundation.

During that time, Dr. Forouhi and her colleagues identified 7,606 new cases of CVD among all participants, of which 1,714 of died of a heart disease. But when comparing the diets of those who did suffer CVD and those that did not, the study showed that people with higher adherence to the diet were 6-19 percent less likely to develop a heart condition.

Then, the percentage was applied to the U.K’s population to estimate how many lives could the diet save. If healthy Britons followed the Mediterranean diet, around 3.9 percent of new-onset CVD cases and 12.5 percent of CVD deaths could be prevented, suggested the study.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S.

Cardiovascular diseases refer to all conditions that affect the heart and blood vessel, including stroke and heart attack. CVD kill around 610 thousand people annually in the U.S., making it the leading cause of death in the U.S. Additionally, around 735 thousand Americans have a heart attack each year, and around 800 thousand people are affected by stroke.

“These results add to the pool of evidence on the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, even in a non-Mediterranean country where an optimal dietary pattern in unknown,” said Forouhi.

Forouhi added that the team’s findings could stimulate future population-based and clinical investigation to determine efficacy and effectiveness of adhering to the Mediterranean diet in contemporary and older populations.

Source: Medical News Today