Mediterranean Diet Including Nuts Leads to Better Heart Health

Researchers again find that consuming nuts can lead to better heart health, especially when combined with a Mediterranean diet. According to new research, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, incorporating olive oil and a handful of nuts into our daily diet can reduce our risk of metabolic syndrome, a known cause of heart disease and other chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Researchers studied 1224 older people who had major risk factors for developing heart disease. They divided them into groups. One received 1 liter of virgin olive oil, the other 30 grams, or one ounce of nuts, and another a low fat diet. All of the participants had signs of metabolic syndrome. After one year, they again measured indicators of heart health, using guidelines from the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III.

The entire study group received periodic education regarding the Mediterranean diet. None of study group limited food intake, eating to their satisfaction. They also did not incorporate new exercise routines during the study.

The researchers discovered that those who ate nuts combined with a Mediterranean diet experience a 13.7% reduction in signs of metabolic syndrome. The group who received olive oil in addition to a Mediterranean diet had a 6.7% reduction in the cluster of factors that compose metabolic syndrome - high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, abdominal obesity, elevated CRP (an inflammatory marker), and insulin resistance.

The researchers used mixed nuts, and virgin olive oil to study the effects of a Mediterranean diet on heart health. We have been conditioned to seek low fat food options for heart health. The current study showed that a Mediterranean diet alone did not affect metabolic syndrome as significantly as the combination of nuts, plus a Mediterranean diet – the participants reduced signs of metabolic syndrome by 2% with a Mediterranean diet alone, when compared to those who consumed olive oil and mixed nuts.

The authors concluded that managing metabolic syndrome through a Mediterranean diet, including nuts could lead to better heart health. Past studies have shown that eating a Mediterranean diet can reduce our risk of early death from a wide array of diseases.

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