A new study from the University of Barcelona found that eating a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or tree nuts reduced the risk of suffering a cardiovascular-related death by around 30 percent.
The results of the study PREDIMED, aimed to assess the efficacy of the Mediterranean diet in the primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases, have been published in the journal The New England Journal of Medicine. They prove that the Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or tree nuts reduces by 30 % the risk of suffering a cardiovascular death, a myocardial infarction or a stroke. The study has been coordinated by the researcher Ramon Estruch, from the Faculty of Medicine of the UB and the Hospital Clínic — affiliated centers with the health campus of the UB, HUBc — and has had the collaboration of professor Rosa M. Lamuela and her team from the Natural Antioxidant Research Group of the Faculty of Pharmacy — located at the campus of international excellence BKC — which determined the biomarkers of Mediterranean diet consumption.
The research is part of the project PREDIMED, a multicenter trial carried out between 2003 and 2011 to study the effects of the Mediterranean diet on the primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases. The study was funded by the Carlos III Health Institute by means of the cooperative research thematic network (RETIC RD06/0045) and the CIBER of Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition (CIBERobn).
7,447 people following major cardiovascular risk factors participated in the study. They were divided into three dietary intervention groups: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts), and a low-fat diet (animal and vegetable). A dietician visited the patients every three months and they attended dietary training group sessions, in which they received detailed information about the Mediterranean and the low-fat diet, and the food included in each one. Moreover, they were provided with shopping lists, menus and recipes adapted to each type of diet and each season of the year.
During the study, those participants who followed any of the two types of Mediterranean diet received freely extra-virgin olive oil (one liter per week), and nuts (30 grams per day; 15 grams of walnuts, 7.5 grams of almonds, and 7.5 grams of hazelnuts).
After five years, it has been proved that participants who followed any of the two types of Mediterranean diet showed a substantial reduction in the risk of suffering a cardiovascular death, a myocardial infarction or a stroke. These results are published today in the journal New England Journal of Medicine.
According to the researchers, the results of PREDIMED study are relevant as they prove that a high-vegetable fat diet is healthier at a cardiovascular level than a low-fat diet. The authors state that the study has been controversial as it provides new data to reject the idea that it is necessary to reduce fats in order to improve cardiovascular health.
Hopefully, these results will provide new references to prevent cardiovascular diseases. In addition, the design and methodology used can be easily transferred to the biomedical sector.
Reference: “Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet” by Ramon Estruch, Emilio Ros, Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Maria Isabel Covas, Dolores Corella, Fernando Arós, Enrique Gómez-Gracia, Valentina Ruiz-Gutiérrez, Miquel Fiol, José Lapetra, Rosa Maria Lamuela-Raventos, Lluís Serra-Majem, Xavier Pintó, Josep Basora, Miguel Angel Muñoz, José V. Sorlí, José Alfredo Martínez and Miguel Angel Martínez-González, 25 February 2013, New England Journal of Medicine.
The study had the collaboration of several researchers from the Hospital Clínic, the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM), the faculties of Medicine of the universities Rovira i Virgili, Navarra, Valencia, Canary Islands, and Malaga, as well as the University Hospital Son Espases of Palma, the Fats Institute in Seville, and the primary health care networks of Barcelona, Seville, Tarragona, and Valencia.