Another Mediterranean Diet Bonus

August 15, 2013

We've often noted the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, which is believed to protect against heart disease and cancer while reducing risks of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. Now there is new research that suggests that the Mediterranean diet can actually counteract a genetic risk for stroke! For the study, which was published in Diabetes Care, researchers studied more than 7,000 people aged 55 to 80 who ate a low-fat diet, a Mediterranean diet high in nuts, or a Mediterranean diet high in extra-virgin olive oil. Participants were followed for an average of five years. Approximately 14 percent of the participants  were homozygous carriers, a mutation that includes two copies of a gene variant that boosts the risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 50 percent compared to other forms of the gene. Those with the mutation who went on the low-fat diet were nearly three times more likely than other participants to have a stroke. Those who went on the Mediterranean diets had about an equal level of risk as those without the genetic mutation. In other words, the Mediterranean diet seemed to compensate for the genetic mutation! This study is the first to identify a gene-diet interaction, and was designed to provide an analysis of the relationship between diet, genetics and life-threatening cardiac events. It's believed that this will help identify people who may reduce their risk for chronic disease, or even prevent it, by making healthy changes to the way they eat. What is a Mediteranean diet?
  • Whole grains, vegetables and fruits served at most meals.
  • Olive oil is the principal source of dietary fat.
  • Nuts, beans, legumes and seeds are eaten for protein, healthy fats and fiber.
  • Herbs and spices are used to season dishes instead of salt.
  • Fish and shellfish are eaten for protein and lean cuts of meats are eaten in small portions.
If a Mediterranean diet is too big of a change all at once, researchers suggest concentrating on using olive oil and eating more nuts.  With all these benefits, what are you waiting for?    

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