Study Suggests Olive Oil, Nuts May Help Reverse Heart Risk Factors

More evidence that eating like a Greek can be good for your ticker. According to a new study, consuming a Mediterranean diet with additional extra virgin olive oil or nuts could reverse conditions that trigger heart disease. Collage Heart and Olive Oil

Spanish researchers found that people who ate fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and fish along with extra olive oil or nuts lowered their obesity and blood glucose levels. Both are symptoms of metabolic syndrome, which boosts a person’s risk of stroke, heart disease or diabetes.

“A healthy diet, like the Mediterranean diet, with a moderate-high intake of vegetable fat (in form of virgin olive oil or nuts) is a good healthy option for the prevention of several cardiovascular risk factors and chronic disease,” the study’s senior author Dr. Jordi Salas-Salvadó told Reuters Health.

Around a quarter of adults are estimated to suffer from metabollic syndrome, which reflects a combination of three risk factors, including:  high blood pressure, blood sugar, triglycerides, low HDL (good) cholesterol, and obesity.

The researchers tracked about 5,800 men and women aged 55-80 who were at risk of heart disease. They were divided into three groups: One followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil; the second a Mediterranean diet with additional nuts; and the third – a control group – a low-fat diet.

While 64 percent of the participants had metabolic syndrome at the onset of the study, according to researchers, 28% of people no longer had symptoms after eating the Mediterranean diet. In particular, the researchers found that after nearly five years the people in the two Mediterranean diet groups were more likely to have lost belly fat and to have lower blood sugar levels.

“The higher reversion rate of metabolic syndrome was mainly observed in those individuals allocated to the Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil,” Salas-Salvadó told Reuters Health.

“We can speculate that a Mediterranean diet, particularly one supplemented with extra virgin olive oil (which has anti-inflammatory properties), could exert positive effects on fat redistribution.”

The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

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