Dietary Modifications Decrease Cardiovascular Risk
A recent study showed that a Mediterranean Diet plus nuts can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in people that have Metabolic syndrome also known as “Syndrome X”. Metabolic syndrome is characterized by high blood sugar, high blood pressure, decreased HDL, elevated triglycerides and fat deposits around the waist. There is a high prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome in the US and unfortunately all too often these people will be prescribed drugs such as metformin for type 2 diabetes, various beta blockers or diuretics for high blood pressure and potentially a statin for high triglycerides. This is certainly a cocktail of side effects in the making. Fortunately more and more doctors are suggesting one try diet modifications first before the medications. One of the diets that has been shown over and over again to improve risk of cardiovascular disease is the Mediterranean Diet.
The Mediterranean diet is really one type of diet as there are many differences among the diets of people in the Italy, Greece and Spain. However there are some common attributes. From Dalzeil et al: “Key elements of the Mediterranean diet are more whole-gran bread, more fruit and green vegetables, more fish, less red meat, no butter or cream and oils restricted to olive oil. Moderate wine consumption is usually permitted.“ To make the diet even more nutritious I’d take out the word ‘bread’ in the previous statement and only use whole grains – preferably soaked for 8 hours or more before cooking.
The above mentioned study clearly demonstrates that eating a Mediterranean diet improves cardiovascular function over a standard low-fat diet. This was a 1 year study with over 1000 participants – plus there was a control group so it certainly is a well designed study that we need to pay it close attention. If you add nuts to the diet then the improvement increases further. Reducing the amount of sugar you eats and adding olive oil and nuts to the diet is a good start to making improvements. So why resort to medication when your pantry is your medicine cabinet?
Maynard MA & Cambridge MA
Filed under: Nutrition
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