The European Food Doctor Endorses the Mediterranean Diet
The latest study to examine the potential benefits of the Mediterranean diet made headlines around the world last week. Here’s what the study involved, and what it found: Investigators enrolled nearly 8,000 people who were at high risk of developing heart disease, although they had no heart disease at the time of enrollment. They were assigned to eat one of three diets: the classic Mediterranean diet, plus as much extra virgin olive oil as they desired; a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts; or a control diet, featuring vague advice to reduce fat intake.
Scientists followed the participants for about five years, and then halted the study early, based on their interim findings. Basically, the results were so clear, they decided it would be unethical to continue, since people on the control diet would essentially miss out on the benefits the study had already uncovered. Here’s what they concluded: people who consumed either of the Mediterranean diet variations were significantly less likely to suffer a “cardiovascular event” (meaning heart attack, stroke, or death from cardiovascular disease) than people on a generic lower-fat diet.
Some commentators appeared surprised that adding fat, in the form of olive oil and/or nuts, could actually reduce the incidence of heart disease. But I wasn’t surprised. It’s long been clear to me that olive oil and nuts are both natural, healthful components of this diet. In my book, True Nutrition, I talk more extensively about the merits of the diet, and supply a seven-day “Sinless Diet” based on the fundamental principles of the Mediterranean diet.