March 8/London/States News Service -- Eating a Mediterranean diet "can reduce the risk of developing conditions such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure," The Daily Telegraph reports. Mediterranean diets are typically high in fruit and vegetables, low in meat and use olive oil in place of dairy fats.
The news comes from a new review of research on the Mediterranean diet that combined and analysed the results of 50 studies in more than 500,000 people. Among the most notable findings were that those eating the diet had lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar and higher levels of "good" cholesterol. The study also found an overall reduction in symptoms of metabolic syndrome, a combination of risk factors that increase the likelihood of cardiovascular disease.
This new review did not assess the development of heart disease and diabetes, but it has demonstrated that the Mediterranean diet reduces the development of metabolic syndrome and its components, which are often precursors to the development of these conditions. There were some differences between the gathered studies that suggest that the results should be interpreted somewhat cautiously, although the trends seen do support other research about this dietary pattern.
The study was performed by researchers from universities in Athens and Ioannina in Greece and in Naples, Italy. The authors do not specify whether they received external funding. The study was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
The press has covered this study well, although headlines stating that the Mediterranean diet "cuts risk of heart disease" may incorrectly imply that the study directly measured outcomes of heart disease. The study was concerned with a range of risk factors that are likely to precede heart disease, such as high blood pressure.
This is certainly not the first time that research on the Mediterranean diet has made headlines, with numerous individual studies on the diet having received press coverage. However, this systematic review and meta-analysis provides the most up-to-date assessment of the evidence for the diet as a way to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in adults.
From the March 9, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News
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