Research shows that when it comes to heart health, a diet high in vegetable fat may be dramatically preferable to a low-fat diet.
A new major clinical trial shows that 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes, and deaths from heart disease can be prevented in those at high risk. The key? Follow a Mediterranean diet, rich in extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, fish, legumes, fruits and veggies, and wine.
Researchers followed 7,447 people, ages 55 to 80, who were at high risk for cardiovascular disease. People were broken into 3 groups. One group ate a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil (at least 4 tablespoons a day). Another group followed the Mediterranean diet supplemented with a nut mix consisting of walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts. Each day, they ate a generous handful (about a quarter cup). The third group ate a low-fat diet.
Of the 288 people who died during the study, 109 came from the group following the low-fat diet. Those on the Mediterranean diets were 30 percent less likely to die of a heart attack or stroke. In fact, the results were so clear that researchers ended the study early for ethical reasons.
This research is part of a larger project called PREDIMED— a multi-center trial conducted between 2003 and 2011 to study the Mediterranean diet’s effect on cardiovascular disease.