These days I’ll make extra sure to include veggies, fruits, nuts and seafood in my meals as much as possible. And, of course, I’ll drizzle everything with our extra virgin olive oil. My menu planning is inspired by a new study – in the journal Diabetes Care – suggesting a Mediterranean diet may counteract certain people’s risk for strike.
The study linked the diet – rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, olive oil, seafood, and nuts – to a lower stroke risk among older people whose genetic makeup makes them more vulnerable to stroke. The results, to be sure, weren’t conclusive.
In particular, researchers studied the interaction between a Mediterranean diet and a so-called gene variant strongly associated with the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Study author Jose Ordovas, director of the Nutrition and Genomics Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, theorized to FoxNews.com that the gene variant wasn’t “expressed” because of the addition of extra virgin olive oil and nuts on top of the other foods in the Mediterranean diet.
“In the case of the olive oil, while we have dietary fat that is very mild, the virgin olive oil contains many other elements and antioxidants that may act over the expression of the gene – creating the beneficial effects,” Ordovas told FoxNews.com.
“It’s the same with the nuts. They are rich in fat, but also rich in minor components that may influence expression of the gene. They act over inflammation, over lipid levels and so on.”
Researchers studied more than 7,000 Spanish men and women assigned to eat either a Mediterranean diet or a low-fat diet. The men and women were monitored for cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart attack for almost five years.
“Being on the Mediterranean diet reduced the number of strokes in people with two copies of the (gene) variant. The food they ate appeared to eliminate any increased stroke susceptibility, putting them on an even playing field with people with one or no copies of the variant,” Ordovás said in a news release.
“The results were quite different in the control group following the low fat control diet, where homozygous carriers were almost three times as likely to have a stroke compared to people with one or no copies of the gene variant.”
Ordovás also told FoxNews.com that he wasn’t suggesting everyone should stick to the Mediterranean diet; but he did advise people with a history of cardiovascular illness to try to include some of the cuisine’s food into their daily diets.
“It may not be necessary to change their entire diet, but they should at least include in their diets elements of the Mediterranean diet we had mentioned – primarily the olive oil and nuts.”