Mediterranean Diet’s Benefits Confirmed

By Victoria Colliver,    SF Gate, 2-26-2013

The Mediterranean diet has long been touted as healthy. Now a study released Monday of the effects of a diet rich in olive oil, nuts, vegetables, fruits and fish confirms that.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that the diet can reduce the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases by 30 percent.

Such a diet may seem like common sense, but researchers say the findings are significant because of the study’s size and scientific rigor. It followed more than 7,400 people at risk of heart disease for nearly five years and measured the effects of the Mediterranean diet against a group that was assigned a low-fat diet.

“This study backs up what we thought we knew with science, and the results were pretty dramatic,” said Dr. Rita Redberg, a UCSF cardiologist specializing in heart disease in women. “If this were a pill, people would be clamoring for it.”

Redberg, who was not involved with the study, said one of the diet’s main benefits is that it’s not only heart-healthy, but it also promotes a way of eating that people can follow for a lifetime rather than just a few months. “This is a diet that’s pretty doable, particularly for people living in Northern California, where we certainly have access to plenty of fruits and vegetables and grains,” she said.

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