The role of nutrition in cardiovascular disease

Neolife Nutrition Department

According to a study published in The New England Journal, a well-balanced Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by more than 30%.

Nutrition is a key factor in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. The Mediterranean diet or low glycemic index diets are the best options, while low-fat diets, in addition to being very difficult to maintain over time, have not proven to be effective in the prevention against cardiovascular disease.

The role of nutrition in cardiovascular disease

Until now, there was no clear evidence of the effects of the Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular disease, and although multiple studies show that people from Mediterranean countries appear to have lower rates of heart disease, this pattern could have been attributed to factors other than diet.

Thanks to a new study, conducted by Dr. Ramón Estruch, professor of medicine at the University of Barcelona, and published in The New England Journal, the true power of the Mediterranean diet in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease has now been made clear.  The research links the Mediterranean diet and cardiovascular disease, and is based on the first significant clinical trial to measure the effects the diet has on heart risks.

The study took 7,447 participants, located randomly across Spain, who were overweight, smokers, or had diabetes or other risk factors for heart disease. By presenting them with a well-balanced Mediterranean diet, rich in fruit, vegetables, fish and olive oil, the incidence of cardiovascular disease was reduced by more than 30%. After almost five years, the success of the research was such that the study was finished ahead of schedule since the results were so conclusive it was deemed unnecessary to continue further.

Rachel Johnson, professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont and spokesperson for the American Heart Association, affirms that the effects of the Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular disease are very significant. In the study, cholesterol, hypertension and weight were not taken as risk factors, but rather heart attacks, strokes and mortality were measured instead. At the end of the day, these are what truly count as significant and conclusive. What is more, science is continuously advancing and things change. We now know that cholesterol is far from the main culprit of cardiovascular disease.

In addition, as Dr. Steven E. Nissen, Chairman of the Department of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation states, low-fat diets have not proven to be effective in preventing cardiovascular disease, let alone being very difficult to maintain.

The Mediterranean diet does not drastically restrict fats as is usually the way with diets, rather it provides the healthiest fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) in the right proportions, and is proven to be the best way to maintain a healthy balance of omega 6 and omega 3, as the diet is rich in fish, seeds and nuts. The Mediterranean diet is characterized by three daily servings of fruit, two daily servings of vegetables, fish and legumes at least three times a week, white meat instead of red meat, four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and seven glasses of wine a week.

The Mediterranean diet is not only the best nutritional choice in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, but it is also a healthy and balanced diet that you can truly enjoy eating.