Mediterranean diet helps people with heart disease stay healthy

June 8, 2010 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

Mediterranean diet helps people with heart disease stay healthy
It's well known that a Mediterranean diet can help protect against heart disease, but new research is showing it may also be beneficial for people with existing heart conditions.

This eating pattern, which includes lots of fruits and vegetables, nuts, vegetable oils, low-fat dairy products, legumes, whole grains, and fish, has already been shown to help protect against heart disease and certain cancers.

Researchers looked at 1,000 patients who had suffered heart attacks or severe chest pain and rated each patient on a scale of 0 to 55 based on how closely their eating matched the Mediterranean ideal.

Nearly half of the patients experienced a second heart-related event within two years after their original hospital discharge.

Researchers found patients with the most Mediterranean-style diets were at 31 percent lower risk of suffering another heart attack or experiencing chest pain during the first month after they were discharged from the hospital.

They were only half as likely as those with the least Mediterranean eating habits to have another heart-related event within a year, and nearly 40 percent less likely to experience repeat heart problems within two years.

For every additional point on the 55-point Mediterranean Diet Score, a person's risk of having another heart-related event over the next two years fell by 12 percent.

When the researchers looked at different components of the Mediterranean diet separately, they found that vegetables, salad and nuts were the only foods that cut risk; people who ate vegetables and salad or nuts daily or weekly were at 20 percent lower risk of repeat heart problems within two years of their initial hospitalization compared to people who ate these foods monthly or less often.

The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.