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Mediterranean diet: Nuts and olive oil reduce risk of heart disease

A landmark global study released at the 6th International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition held at Loma Linda University Health shows that a plant-based Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts or virgin olive oil significantly reduces the risk of heart

A landmark global study released at the 6th International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition held at Loma Linda University Health shows that a plant-based Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts or virgin olive oil significantly reduces the risk of heart disease.
A landmark global study released at the 6th International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition held at Loma Linda University Health shows that a plant-based Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts or virgin olive oil significantly reduces the risk of heart disease.

Plant-based Mediterranean diets over low-fat diet

The study, which will appear in the New England Journal of Medicine, involved nearly 7,500 participants (55 to 80 years old) at high risk of heart disease but exhibiting no symptoms. It followed participants for an average of 4.8 years.

Referred to as PREDIMED (Prevention with the Mediterranean Diet), the study set out to determine the effects of three diets on body weight, blood pressure, insulin resistance, blood lipids, lipid oxidation, and systemic inflammation.

Participants were randomly assigned to one of three diet groups:

  • Low-fat diet (control group)

  • Mediterranean diet supplemented with virgin olive oil (50 ml per day)

  • Mediterranean diet supplemented with 30 g mixed nuts per day (15 g walnuts, 7.5 g almonds and 7.5 g hazelnuts)


Energy intake was not specifically restricted and the participants were given dietetic support and quarterly education sessions to ensure compliance.

The healthy fat-friendly results

The study found that the consumption of the Mediterranean diet, supplemented with nuts or olive oil, had the following favorable effects:

  • Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes

  • Lower levels of inflammatory markers – linked to atherosclerosis, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes

  • Reduced arterial pressure

  • Decreased blood lipids and fasting blood glucose

  • Improvement in the management of metabolic syndrome – a collection of risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes

  • Enhanced bone metabolism in the elderly


The bottom line: A plant-based Mediterranean diet with healthy fat sources performed better than a low-fat diet.

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