World Bulletin/News Desk
Past research suggested people who eat this type of diet have healthier hearts, but those studies couldn't rule out that other health or lifestyle differences had made the difference.
But for the new trial, written up in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers randomly assigned study volunteers at risk of heart disease to a Mediterranean or standard low-fat diet for five years, allowing the team to single out the effect of diet in particular.
"This is good news, because we know how to prevent the main cause of deaths - that is cardiovascular diseases - with a good diet," said Miguel Angel Martinez-Gonzalez, who worked on the study at the Universidad de Navarra in Pamplona.
He and colleagues from across Spain assigned almost 7,500 older adults with diabetes or other heart risks to one of three groups.
Two groups were instructed to eat a Mediterranean diet - one supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and the other with nuts, both donated for the study - with help from personalized advice and group meetings. The third study group ate a "control" diet, which emphasized low-far dairy products, grains and fruits and vegetables.
Over the next five years, 288 study participants had a heart attack or stroke, or died of any type of cardiovascular disease.
People on both Mediterranean diets, though, were 28 to 30 percent less likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those on the general low-fat diet, the researchers said.
The new study is the first randomized trial of any diet pattern to show benefit among people initially without heart disease, said Dariush Mozaffarian, who studies nutrition and cardiovascular disease at the Harvard School of Public Health.
It's the blend of Mediterranean diet components, and not one particular ingredient, that promotes heart health, according to Martinez-Gonzalez.
"The quality of fat in the Mediterranean diet is very good," he told Reuters Health. "This good source of calories is replacing other bad sources of calories. In addition, there is a wide variety of plant foods in the Mediterranean diet," he added, including legumes and fruits as desserts.
Gene therapy for cystic fibrosis has for the first time shown slight but significant benefit on lung function, new British research reveals.
A new study has determined that soda drinks are responsible for more than 184,000 deaths with nearly 80% occurring in low to middle income countries
The plight of these urban areas show how dire the coming global freshwater shortage could get.
Coin-sized band analyzes blood glucose levels and releases insulin when needed
A WHO report has found that the use of lindane and DDT are linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Pope Francis has said that the emissions trading is a ploy to allow wealthy emitters to continue their work
Russian sewerage dump is responsible for declining fish stock in the Baltic seas.
A new cancer drug will be tested as part of a joint effort by AstraZeneca and Lilly.
Smart technology and regulation will aid challenges in global power sector, helping to lower the carbon emitted globally.
A deal between the richest nations in the world has been seen as unlikely, as OECD seeks to phase out export credits.
Soon more than 1 billion consumers in developing nations will be able to buy their first air conditioner, increasing energy demand which will impact global warming
The European Union has given new authorization for 10 new types of genetically modified crops have been approved for a 10 year use for human consumption and animal feed.
Guinea's President Alpha Conde announced new emergency measures in Ebola fight on Saturday
'Meetings happened. Action didn’t,' says Medecins Sans Frontieres report.
WHO said that on many levels, the world is better prepared now than ever before for aflu pandemic
Myanmar health officals say an outbreak of H5N1 bird flu in Mandalay