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Once again, another study that the Mediterranean diet cuts risk of stroke. Yawn. We know this. It’s so obvious that ANY low carb diet approach with an emphasis on higher fat intake and lower carbs is a healthier diet. So is a vegetarian low fat, high carb diet. Why? Because they are on the extreme ends of the scale. Any diet in the middle…or in moderation…is an unhealthy diet. Atkin’s, Mediterranean, Paleo, Suzzane Somers, South Beach, The Zone Diet as well as Dr. Dean Ornish’s vegetarian diet have all proven to be cardio-protective.

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that following a Mediterranean diet lowered the risk of stroke by 33% to 46% without counting calories.

Mediterranean diets feature lots of fruit, vegetables, nuts and olive oil and moderate amounts of fish and poultry. The Mediterranean diet contains little dairy, red or processed meat or sweets and does allow moderate amounts of wine with meals.

The 7,447 study participants were allowed to consume as many calories as they wished and were given no instructions about exercise.

Participants were randomly assigned to follow one of three diets:

  • Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil
  • Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts
  • low-fat diet, including bread, potatoes and pasta

The participants, ages 55 to 80 years old, were followed for nearly five years. Everyone had a high risk for heart disease whether due to diabetes, smoking or other issues, but no cardiovascular problems at the time the study began.

Those on an olive-oil rich Mediterranean diet had a 33% lower stroke risk, while those eating a Mediterranean diet with extra nuts had a 46% lower risk of stroke compared to those told to eat a low-fat diet.

One group was encouraged to eat 50 grams of olive oil each day (4 TBSP) and the other group, 30 grams of nuts (1 ounce).

Imagine the healthy impact of a diet with olive oil AND nuts!

Researchers stopped the study early when they noticed a clear advantage to the Mediterranean diet, which also appeared more popular with participants. Why? Because people find fat to be tastier and more satisfying.

Dr. Dean Ornish attempted to diminish the results of the study by pointing out that no one in the study reduced fat by much. Even the low fat group only reduced their fat intake from 39% to 37% of their daily calories. To me, that’s more proof of the higher fat groups benefit from even higher levels of fat. The American Heart Association advocates a diet with less than 30% of calories coming from fat and we know how successful their campaign has been to decrease cardiovascular events. They haven’t been successful.

Perhaps he might embrace the extreme diets, including his own, as both being healthier for people.

Full text of study found here:

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1200303?query=featured_home

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