Mediterranean Diet Is
Good for Your Heart-Study
A "Mediterranean diet" rich in olive oil
and lean on meat reduced signs of inflammation that raise the risk
of heart disease, researchers reported.
The finding was among the newest
evidence, presented at an annual meeting of the American Heart Association,
that diets low in fat and rich in fruits and vegetables may prevent
heart disease - the leading killer of Americans.
A Mediterranean diet emphasizes fruits,
vegetables, fish and olive oil, and very little meat, and has been
linked to lower heart disease rates.
In the new study, researchers tracked
the eating habits of about 3,000 men and women in Greece, aged 18
to 89, who did not have cardiovascular disease.
The closer people adhered to the
Mediterranean diet, the lower their levels of various measures of
inflammation, which recent research shows plays a major role in
development of heart disease.
Some have speculated that other factors,
such as exercise and stress levels of Mediterranean countries, may
account for the heart benefits.
But Demosthenes Panagiotakos of Harokopian
University of Athens, Greece, lead researcher of the new study,
said his findings held true even when differences in body mass index,
physical activity, age, sex and education level were accounted for.
"The effect of this diet was independent"
He added that he believed the benefits
"were from the diet as a whole, not specific items consumed."
A separate study, at Tufts University
in Boston, helped explain why eating fish is good for the heart.
It showed eating at least two servings of fish each week was linked
to slower worsening of heart lesions.
The findings were particularly true
for tuna and dark meat fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel
and for diabetic women. Researchers are unsure why white fish did
not seem as beneficial, said Arja Erikkila, the lead researcher.
Other researchers at Oregon Health
& Science University set out to discover how fish oil supplements
prevent sudden cardiac death. One theory is that they reduce the
occurrence of dangerous irregular heart beats, or arrhythmias.
Looking at 200 patients who had implanted
defibrillators that recorded arrhythmias, the researchers found
the fish oil supplements did not decrease the frequency any more
than placebo capsules.
Still, strong evidence remains that
fish oil and other sources of Omega-3 fatty acids such as flaxseed
oil, reduce death from cardiovascular disease, and people should
not abandon them, said Dr. Raymond Gibbons, chairman of the American
Heart Association's scientific sessions committee.
"Don't stop eating salmon as a result
of this," Gibbons said.
Reference Source 101