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March 01, 2013

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This is a great study that highlights on the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids! A diet rich in the "good fats", such as Mediterranean diet, means obtaining what we would normally get from fish oil supplements (omega-3 fatty acids) naturally from foods. Omega-3 fatty acids have been long established and is a known recommendation to promote heart health and decrease cardiovascular risk. Therefore, it is not surprising that the participants on this diet have a lower risk for cardiovascular disease after the 4.8 years.

This was an informative study and makes a strong case for Mediterranean diet for heart health in people with high risk for heart disease. What I would love to see is how this information extrapolates to the larger population. So for people who don't have any of the risk factors mentioned in the study (i.e. smoker, diabetes, hypertension, obese/overweight) what can a Mediterranean diet do for them. Would it decrease their risk for adverse heart events as well and by how much?

I wonder if there are any studies out that show the benefits of extra-virgin olive oil vs. pure olive oil? In general, I think the more processing that a food substance undergoes, the less healthy it becomes (think anything from McDonalds). I wonder if the 'magic ingredient' is something that gets lost as olive oil becomes more processed?

I always believed that olive oil is healthier than the other oils. A lot of recipes and restaurants use olive oil exclusively to cook and make salads. I think olive oil tastes better and it has an earthy note. It great that this study found that it might be healthy for the heart. This diet may not be the only factor to help with blood pressure and heart health, but I believe it is something beneficial to incorporate.

I was very pleased to see this article published in the NEJM! Although some people are weary regarding the results of this study, I am fairly confident that the NEJM wouldn't allow this to get published without thoroughly reviewing all aspects of the study design for appropriateness. Although there is potential for recall bias in this study, I feel that this diet has largely been looked at for its health benefits in the past (especially the olive oil). My living proof of the Mediterranean diet's health benefits is my 91-year old Italian/Greek grandmother. Another interesting fact about her is that she barely has one wrinkle on her face. Could there be another hidden health benefit to the Mediterranean diet; prevention of skin aging?

I agree that it is often very difficult to control the diet of study subjects, but I am still impressed by these findings. I have a patient who has been using a mediterranean type diet plan for 5 years, and was able to decrease her body mass index from a morbidly obese level to an overweight level. I continue to be impressed by the effects of the diet on health, and this is no exception. Hopefully we can reproduce these results in a more controlled study design.

In addition to be associated with a reduction in heart disease, the Mediterranean diet has also been associated with a reduced incidence of cancer, Parkinsonn’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Every meal should be based on fruits, vegetables, grains (whole), olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, herbs and spices (vs salt). At least two times weekly, fish and seafood should be incorporated. Whereas moderation of poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt and meats and sweets should be eliminated. This diet also emphasizes plenty of exercise.

This is helpful information to know. The age group observed in this study was from 55 to 80 years old. It would be interesting to see what the effects are on younger ages as well. I have recently been interested in learning more about gluten-free, dairy-free diets because one of my preceptors (an herbalist) felt that it was healthier than any other type of diet. It would be interesting to see studies done on the cardiovascular effects of this type of diet as well.

I feel like I've heard about the benefits of a Mediterranean diet before, and I'm glad to see some research in this area. Of course, we definitely need more studies. As other posts mentioned, because the diets of patients can only be controlled and monitored to a certain extent, we can't know all the factors that may have contributed to the outcomes (i.e. alcohol use). However, that's how diets work; they vary from person to person. I do, however, think it's possible to generally extrapolate that the components of a Mediterranean diet may have a positive effect on heart health.

The wine comment is very interesting, especially considering all the controversy about wine and heart disease these days. It seems every time I turn around there's a new trials with completely different results. The big question seems to be what in the alcohol might be helping. The amount of resveratrol in wine is relatively low, so nobody could drink enough wine to make that effective. Flavanoids (antioxidants) have also been suggested, but a recent study suggested an alcohol might be just as helpful, which would call that into question. I think the main thing now is to be careful in recommending wine to patients. I know at least one person who developed atrial fibrillation while drinking 2 small glasses of wine a night, no other apparent cause. As in everything, caution!

Europeans have lower rates of many chronic diseases when compared to Americans! I'm sure less sedentary lifestyles and healthier diets play a huge role in these statistics, but a lot can be said about the benefits of healthy oils and nuts.

I recently started eating nuts as a mid-morning snack and have already seen an amazing difference. I have been blessed (or cursed?) with a fast metabolism, and most snacks leave me starving one hour later. Nuts help me feel fuller longer because they are rich in protein and many essential nutrients. One study showed nuts can even promote weight loss. I firmly believe nuts can be a great addition to any diet, but, of course, only in moderation.

I've been hearing about this for a long time, but this article made me actually go look up a Mediterranean diet, and I was actually surprised. Some of it I knew, but other parts surprised me. Low-moderate fish consumption - I always thought it was high fish that was good for you (minus metal poisoning concerns, of course!). And high consumption of potatoes and breads? That sounds like a lot of starch, which most of us have been taught is something to stay away from!

I took a quick peek at this study on Mediterranean Diets because this diet sounds appealing! One thing I was disappointed to see is that they did not control for alcohol use. If this diet was complemented by daily moderate alcohol use (like a glass of red wine, as is common in the Mediterranean region), then this could cause an increase in HDL cholesterol. This could have a big effect on 'heart health'.

While a 30% lower risk is amazing, I think it is important to look at the drug design as well. Food diaries are not exactly the best way to follow up with patients, as they often forget to fill them out daily and then try to retrospectively fill it out for a week or more. This often results in inaccurate reporting of diet. While these results are promising, more research would be beneficial.

This is wonderful evidence that some fats are indeed, healthy for you. So many people try to eat low fat, or fat-free, when in fact they would be better off choosing different forms of fat. Plus, foods with some fats in them, keep you full for a longer period of time.

Wow, a 30% lower risk of heart related adverse events in patients on a Mediterranean diet is great! However, this trial was limited by its lack of generalizability due to only including people with a high risk of cardiovascular disease. The study results might not be able to be extrapolated to people with lower cardiovascular disease risk. This was still a very promising study for the benefits of the Mediterranean diet on heart health.

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