Nuts & Olive Oil May Help Reduce Heart Disease Risk Factors


For people who already have developed heart risk factors, a Mediterranean diet with extra nuts and more olive oil may improve certain heart risk. According to a new study from Spain, the Mediterranean diet is the ideal diet. This diet emphasizes healthy fats and vegetables, legumes, and lean protein like fish.

For a study that lasted five years, researchers tested if consuming a Mediterranean-style diet would help with metabolic syndrome without dieting or changing their lifestyle. Metabolic syndrome has a group of risk factors including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, or low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol.  People who have at least three of these symptoms are at risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Currently, there are about 25% of adults around the world who has this syndrome and about 1/3 of Americans.

The researchers came up with the idea to just look at the Mediterranean diet alone with no other changes in lifestyle because of data the researchers had analyzed data from a larger experiment. The larger experiment had participants of age 55 or older who had a high risk of heart disease. These participants were assigned randomly to one of three diets. The three diets included: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with additional extra-virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts, or a low-fat diet. This experiment suggested that there was a link between consuming extra olive oil and loss of the abdominal fat and lower blood sugar levels.

In the current study, there were 5,801 participants. Almost 2/3 of the participants had metabolic syndrome at the start of the study and 2,094 participants developed the metabolic syndrome during the study.  During the first three years, the researchers saw no change in differences among the groups. But after five years, the researchers saw that the participants who were a part of the Mediterranean-diet groups were more likely to have lost some belly fat and have lower blood sugar levels.

The results show that 30% of those on the Mediterranean who had metabolic syndrome at the start of the study, no longer had metabolic syndrome by the end of the study.

A healthy diet is important because we need to be concerned with what we put in our bodies. Food can have a big effect on how we feel and our long-term health. Also, the Mediterranean diet provides lots of the nutrients that we need in a good way and not too heavy.

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