The Lyon Heart Study examined whether the Mediterranean diet
could reduce the risk of future cardiac events in patients with heart disease as compared to a prudent Western diet(Lancet
1994). The study was stopped earlier than planned because of a compelling decrease in cardiovascular mortality and non-fatal
disease in the Mediterranean diet group. This benefit was maintained for at least 4 years.
Over 11,000 men were studied in the GISSI Prevention Trial
(EuroJClinNutri2003) in Italy. Those who ate the most Mediterranean-type foods (fish, fruit, raw and cooked vegetables,
and olive oil) had a 50% decrease in mortality over 6 1/2 years as compared to controls. The men who supplemented their
diet with fish oil (1 gram/d) had a 20% reduction in mortality from any cause, a 30% reduction in cardiovascular death, and
45% reduction in sudden death.
The Epic Trial (BMJ2005) examined more than 70,000 patients
in Europe, aged 60 and older. Mediterranean diet was associated with a lower death rate (overall 8% reduction).
The Omni-Heart Trial (JAMA2005) compared the risk of cardiovascular disease with 3 diets: low carb, low fat and Mediterranean.
This cross-over designed study had participants stay on each diet for 6 weeks.
- Blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and estimated cardiac risk were lower with each diet as compared
- The low fat (high protein) diet was associated with
reduced physical activity, reduced appetite and increased bloating
The 'Portfolio' Diet was a low fat, vegetarian diet with
added soy, soluble fiber (including oats, barley, legumes, eggplant, okra and metamucil), plant sterols, and almonds (JAMA2003).
Twenty-five volunteers consumed a standard low-fat diet, or the 'Portfolio' diet. After one month, LDL cholesterol fell
an average of 12% on the low fat diet, and 35% on the Portfolio diet (as much as one would expect with 20 mg of the statin,
simvastatin). HDL cholesterol was preserved and CRP reduced on the Portfolio diet.
Benefits on the risk of dementia:
- Linked with a lower risk of dementia (Neurol1993:43(9))
- Daily administration of omega-3's DHA and EPA 0.6g for 6 months was associated with a decreased decline
in patients with mild dementia (Lancet2006;63)
- Use of antioxidants,
antiinflammatory drugs, gingko, vitamin E or aspiring has not panned out to show reduction in the risk of dementia
- The Women's Health Initiative studies have shown a possible association between diet
- Physical exercise seems to improve cognitive function
to a degree
lA large, prospective, cohort study (NEJM 2003) of almost 4 years duration and more than 22,000 patients showed remarkable improvements with a Mediterranean diet:
reduction in CAD
l24% reduction in death due to cancer
lCRP dropped by 20%
lInterleukin-6 dropped by 17%
lFibrinogen dropped by 6%
lHomocysteine dropped by 15%
lWBC by 14%