A long term study conducted by Harokopio University in Athens, Greece, revealed that adults who closely adhered to the Mediterranean diet were 47 percent less likely to develop heart disease. The study was conducted over a 10 year period and will be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 64th Annual Scientific Session in San Diego. The Mediterranean diet generally consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, fish and olive oil.
“Our study shows that the Mediterranean diet is a beneficial intervention for all types of people–in both genders, in all age groups, and in both healthy people and those with health conditions,” said Ekavi Georgousopoulou, a Ph.D. candidate at Harokopio University in Athens, Greece. “It also reveals that the Mediterranean diet has direct benefits for heart health, in addition to its indirect benefits in managing diabetes, hypertension and inflammation.”
The research participant consisted of 2,500 Greek adults, ages 18 to 89, who were evaluated with in-depth surveys about their medical records, lifestyle and dietary habits at the start of the study, after five years and after 10 years. The researchers scored participants’ diets on a scale from 1 to 55 based on their self-reported frequency and level of intake for 11 food groups. Those who scored in the top-third in terms of adherence to the Mediterranean diet, specified they closely followed the diet, were 47 percent less likely to develop heart disease over the 10-year follow-up period as compared to participants who scored in the bottom-third, indicating they did not closely follow the diet. Each one-point increase in the dietary score was associated with a 3 percent drop in heart disease risk.
During the course of the study nearly 20 percent of the men and 12 percent of the women who participated in the study developed or died from heart disease, a suite of conditions that includes stroke, coronary heart disease caused by the buildup of plaque in the heart’s arteries, acute coronary syndromes such as heart attack, and other diseases.
“Because the Mediterranean diet is based on food groups that are quite common or easy to find, people around the world could easily adopt this dietary pattern and help protect themselves against heart disease with very little cost,” said Georgousopoulou.
The study, “Adherence to Mediterranean is the Most Important Protector Against the Development of Fatal and Non-Fatal Cardiovascular Event: 10-Year Follow-up (2002-12) Of the Attica Study,” will be presented on March 15 at 9:30 a.m. PT/12:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. UTC at the American College of Cardiology’s 64th Annual Scientific Session in San Diego. The meeting runs March 14-16.