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Mediterranean Diet Again Linked to Better Heart Health

Healthy eating may not always prevent metabolic syndrome, but may reverse it

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 15, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Following the Mediterranean diet may help reverse metabolic syndrome, according to a study published online Oct. 14 in CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

The study compared a low-fat diet to a Mediterranean diet -- a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, fish, and olive oil. The Mediterranean diet was supplemented with either extra nuts or extra virgin olive oil. The Mediterranean diet didn't lower the odds of developing metabolic syndrome compared to following a low-fat diet, the study authors found. But, the Mediterranean diet did increase the chance of reversing metabolic syndrome.

The researchers analyzed data from 5,801 men and women at risk for heart disease. At the start, almost two-thirds had metabolic syndrome. After a follow-up period of about five years, 28 percent of those who had metabolic syndrome at the start no longer did. Those who ate the Mediterranean diet were more likely to reverse the condition, the researchers reported. Those who ate the Mediterranean diet also had a decrease in central obesity and high fasting glucose.

"It seems that the Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts or virgin olive oil has similar effects on the metabolic syndrome reversal," lead researcher Jordi Salas-Salvado, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of nutrition at the Universitat Rovira I Virgili and Hospital Universitari de Sant Joan de Reus in Spain, told HealthDay. Those on the Mediterranean diet with extra olive oil were 35 percent more likely than those on the low-fat diet to reverse the condition and those on the Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts were 28 percent more likely to reverse metabolic syndrome.

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