Q. I hear that it's now been proved that the Mediterranean diet really is good for your heart. Is that true?
A. Studies going back 60 years have studied the effect of diet on rates of heart attacks, strokes, and other conditions caused by atherosclerosis of the arteries (vascular disease). These studies have shown that people who eat a Mediterranean dietâa diet rich in olive oil, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish, and low in red meats and processed meats, with a moderate amount of cheese and wineâhave lower rates of vascular disease.
The new study, from Spain, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, involved nearly 7,500 people ages 55 or older who did not have vascular disease. Those who were assigned at random to follow the Mediterranean diet every day were similar to those who were assigned at random to a low-fat dietâexcept, of course, for their diets. The Mediterranean diet group had a 30% lower rate of developing vascular disease.
In my opinion, this study is very strong scientific evidence that the Mediterranean diet really is good for your heart and brain. It is a reason for all of us to consider adopting this diet.
âAnthony L. Komaroff, M.D.
Editor in Chief
Harvard Health Letter