A Mediterranean diet which includes extra virgin olive or nuts could help reverse metabolic syndrome in affected people, a study has found. When a person has three or more risk factors for heart disease or diabetes, they are said to have metabolic syndrome. The risk factors include abdominal obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood glucose levels.
Almost 34% American adults are estimated to have metabolic syndrome, the most common causes of which is obesity, physical inactiveness, and genetics. Mediterranean diet is believed to be one of the healthiest dietary patterns and Spanish researchers wanted to investigate the metabolic effects of it.
The diet involves consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts, and reduction of red meat, fish and poultry, and replacing butter with healthy fats like olive oil. A 2013 study claimed that Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in high-risk patients. Also recently, it has been found that children following this diet are 15% less likely to be obese.
The research team analyzed men and women aged 55-80 who were at high risk of cardiovascular disease. At study baseline, 64% of participants had metabolic syndrome.
All individuals were a part of the PREDIMED trial - an ongoing study that aims to assess the effects of a Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular diseases.
Participants were randomized to follow one of three diets: a low-fat diet, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts or a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil. They were followed-up for an average of 4.8 years.
Results of the study revealed that participants who followed the Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts and the Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil saw a reduction in blood glucose levels and abdominal obesity. Furthermore, 28.2% of participants who followed the Mediterranean diets did not meet the criteria for metabolic syndrome by the end of the study.
The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
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