Mortality Risk Lowered with the Mediterranean Diet

Coronary artery disease and stroke patients may now have a non-pharmacologic way to lower their risk of early mortality. Several recent scientific studies appear to demonstrate that adherence to a traditional Mediterranean diet is associated with decreased risk for various chronic diseases, and mortality. Prior research had mainly focused on the general population, and demonstrated favorable effects of this type of diet on inflammation. Now, a recent analysis conducted by Dr. Marialaura Bonaccio, Professor Giovanni de Gaetano, and fellow researchers found that the Mediterranean diet is particularly beneficial for patients with a history of various forms of cardiovascular disease.


The overall Moli-sani project included nearly 25,000 people living in the province of Molise, Italy. Among those participants, the current analysis identified 1,197 people who self-reported a history of cardiovascular disease at the time of enrollment in the study. The study demonstrated that participants who strictly followed the Mediterranean diet (as monitored by a food questionnaire) faced a lower early mortality risk. During the 7.3 year follow-up period, 208 deaths were recorded. The investigators found that death from any cause was reduced by 37 percent in participants with a higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet, compared to those who followed the diet poorly.


According to Dr. Bonaccio, there were major contributors that reduced the mortality risk, including the higher consumption of vegetables, fish, fruit, nuts, and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as olive oil. The results of the study have stimulated further research into the mechanisms behind the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Because the Moli-sani project was an observational study, further research is needed to validate the association between the dietary effects and reduction of mortality.


Following the Mediterranean Diet

If you’re planning to start the Mediterranean diet, you may need to make significant changes to your eating habits. Fast food and take-out will no longer be a part of your lifestyle. You’ll need to stay away from processed foods that use sugar or trans fat and keep sweets to a minimum. Fresh fish, tomatoes, feta cheese, grilled chicken and olive oil will now be an essential part of your diet.


Researchers also recommend adding at least five tablespoons of olive oil to your meals and incorporating nuts into your diet, such as walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts to help you receive the maximum benefits. Other previously demonstrated potential health benefits of the Mediterranean diet include protection against type 2 diabetes, prevention of stroke, reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia and overall increased longevity. The key for success when eating this way is to enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner and not skip a meal.


As with any lifestyle plan, you should also incorporate physical activity into your day. This will help to maximize the cardiovascular benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Walking, running, cycling, swimming, boxing, and aerobic or cardio classes are all great exercises to try. The most important thing to do is keep your body moving while eating a heart-healthy diet.


Understanding Cardiovascular Health Issues in New York

At Preventive Cardiology of New York (PCNY), we are capable of identifying your cardiovascular health risk at the earliest stages, with our highly accurate, non-invasive, state-of-the-art testing. We also provide heart healthy recipes for you to help change your life around. If you would like to learn more about the Mediterranean diet or our heart healthy recipes, schedule an appointment with Dr. Lee Marcus today!