Washington: If you want to keep your heart ticking over, then go for a ‘Mediterranean’ diet as a recent study suggests that it can lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes in cardiovascular disease patients.
The research of over 15,000 people in 39 countries around the world also showed that eating greater amounts of healthy food was more important for these people than avoiding unhealthy foods, such as refined grains, sweets, desserts, sugared drinks and deep-fried food – a “Western” diet.
The study showed that for every 100 people eating the highest proportion of healthy ‘Mediterranean’ foods, there were three fewer heart attacks, strokes or deaths compared to 100 people eating the least amount of healthy foods during nearly four years of follow-up from the time the participants joined the study.
Study leader Ralph Stewart from the University of Auckland said that after adjusting for other factors that might affect the results, they found that every one unit increase in the Mediterranean Diet Score was associated with a seven percent reduction In the risk of heart attacks, strokes or death from cardiovascular or other causes in patients with existing heart disease.
Stewart added that greater consumption of foods thought be less healthy and more typical of Western diets, was not associated with an increase in these adverse events, which we had not expected.
He continued that the research suggests they should place more emphasis on encouraging people with heart disease to eat more healthy foods and perhaps focus less on avoiding unhealthy foods.
However, he warned that this did not mean that people could eat unhealthy foods with impunity.
The researchers did not specify what a “serving” of food might be and relied on people’s interpretation of it; this usually meant that a serving might be an individual piece of fruit, a portion of meat, fish, vegetables or grains that would be enough for one person. This is a limitation of the study, but also a strength.
The study is published in the European Heart Journal.