The Mediterranean diet is rich in monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, for example, and also relies heavily on wholegrain cereals, fruits, vegetables, fish and is low in animal fats. Moreover, it has been shown in numerous studies and clinical trials to reduce mortality from such causes as cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Health experts believe that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substances in the foods of the Mediterranean diet confer health benefits relevant to the prevention of a variety of diseases.
In a new analysis that pooled findings from 50 different studies involving a total of more than 500,000 patients, researchers led by Demosthenes B. Panagiotakos of Harakopio University, Athens, found the diet had beneficial effects against five components of a prediabetic condition called the metabolic syndrome. The analysis found that adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with a 31% reduction in risk of developing the pathological syndrome.
The constellation of components of metabolic syndrome include waist circumference over 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women, abnormally high blood pressure and blood sugar, very low levels of HDL (or good cholesterol), and high levels of blood fats called triglycerides. Abnormalities in these risk factors are widespread among the growing number of people who are obese or overweight or have diabetes.
Heart experts and public-health officials believe that effective approaches to helping people to shrink their waistlines and achieve normal blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels, would help reduce the devastating and deadly toll of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The new study, published online by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, is consistent with other findings of the protective benefit of the Mediterranean diet.
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by Nader Tawil