The Mediterranean diet is not just a fad. Diets come and go, but some are here to stay. The combination of olive oil, olives, tomatoes, nuts, seeds and fish help maintain good health and good numbers. Studies show the diet helps prevent stroke, and now a new study shows that it may help lower the risk of peripheral artery disease (PAD), too.
The Journal of the American Medical Association published the study this month. The lead author of the study results is Dr. Ruiz-Canela from the University of Navarre, Pamplona, Spain. It was a randomized trial conducted from October 2003 to December 2010, and showed that those who ate a Mediterranean diet with the addition of nuts were 50 percent more likely to be free of PAD. Those that followed a Mediterranean diet with extra virgin olive oil and without the supplement of nuts were one-third more likely to avoid PAD.
Randomized trials are the gold standard for a clinical trial, because participants are randomly allocated to receive one or the other of the alternative treatments under study. A control group makes the study even more sound in its findings. The authors of the study write, “To our knowledge, this is the first randomized primary prevention trial to suggest an association between a dietary intervention and PAD.”
In the Mediterranean diet study, called PREDIMED, data from 7,477 men and women with diabetes Type 2 or other cardiovascular risks showed no PAD at the baseline measurement. An equal number of persons chosen randomly went on a low-fat diet, a Mediterranean diet and a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts. The results of the random study suggest that the Mediterranean diet should not be viewed as another fad.
The number needed to prevent one case of PAD was 336 for the patients eating a Mediterranean diet with extra olive oil, and 448 for patients eating a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts. In the United States alone, over eight million suffer from PAD, which is the hardening of the arteries in the legs that restricts the flow of blood in the legs.
The typical Mediterranean diet consists of olives and olive oil, fish, whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts and seeds. The feta cheese used in a lot of Greek dishes is lower in fat than other cheeses. The fats contained in the diet are unsaturated or in the case of fish, provide “good cholesterol.”
In a study published last year, the Mediterranean diet cut the risk of heart attack or stroke by 30 percent over five years. The newly published results are indicative of the diet’s ability to provide good health, as well as a variety of foods to eat. It also follows the My Plate specifications addressed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The Mediterranean diet has proved itself over recent years to be not just a fad. When supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and an assortment of nuts and seeds, the diet is associated with an even lower risk of PAD.
By Lisa M Pickering