This is not new news. In fact the majority of people I speak to, are already aware of some of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for heart and brain health. In my workshops I include the known benefits of this diet when we discuss healthy eating - but now additional support for this mantra has come from a multicentre trial of over 7400 individuals in Spain.
The trial was stopped after 4.8 years because the results were already highly conclusive.
The trial was primarily examining the role of the Mediterranean diet in relation to preventing primary cardiovascular events. But because heart disease and brain disease are highly interlinked it is not unreasonable to suggest that these benefits will extend to brain health as well. I will welcome the results of those further trials when they come in.
In the trial, which comprised people considered at high cardiovascular risk, participants were randomly assigned to either one of two Mediterranean diets - one supplemented with olive oil and the other supplemented with mixed nuts or a diet comprising advice on how to follow a low fat diet.
The two Mediterranean diets both included more than 7 glasses of wine per week.
The participants received either extra virgin olive oil, or mixed nuts or a small non-food gift, depending on which diet they had been allocated. They also received quarterly individual and group educational sessions.
The primary end point was the rate of major cardiovascular events - either myocardial infarction, stroke, or death from a cardiovascular cause.
The conclusion was that there was a significant reduction of cardiovascular endpoint in those who followed the Mediterranean diets.
Dr. Eric Topol MD and Editor in Chief of Medscape has come out fully supporting the importance of this study and in addition he makes the point that for a country such as Spain, which has little spare cash for research, to fund and run such a well run trial such as this, is impressive.
So ditch the "low fat flag." it's time to adhere to the dietary guidelines that include healthy oils such as found in olive oil, seeds and nuts while minimising intake of "trans fats" which tend to be found in processed and deep fried foods.
To which I say "Ole!"
Estruch R, Ros E, Salas-Salvadó J, et al. Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet. N Engl J Med. 2013 February 25. [Epub ahead of print]. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1200303 Accessed March 6, 2013.