Re-affirms 'Mediterranean Diet' Heart Health Benefits


Heart Health Benefits

A new study presents more evidence that a balanced diet that replaces white bread and pasta carbohydrates with unsaturated fat from avocados, olive oil and nuts, typical of a Mediterranean diet, can improve heart health.
The study by a team of Johns Hopkins researchers features in a report prepared for the American Heart Association's scientific sessions in Orlando next week.
The researchers say swapping out certain foods can improve heart health in those at risk for cardiovascular disease, even if the dietary changes aren't coupled with weight loss.
"The introduction of the right kind of fat into a healthy diet is another tool to reduce the risk of future heart disease," says Meghana Gadgil, M.D., M.P.H., a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who will be presenting the research.
The researchers compared the body's ability to regulate blood sugar and maintain healthy insulin levels while on a carbohydrate-rich diet, a protein-rich diet and a diet rich in unsaturated fats. People whose bodies fail to effectively use insulin usually develop type 2 diabetes, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
The researchers found that a generally balanced diet higher in unsaturated fats such as those in avocados, olive oil and nuts improves insulin use significantly more than a diet high in carbohydrates, particularly such refined carbs as white bread and pasta.
The preferred diet is very similar to the Mediterranean diet, which is based on lifestyle patterns typical of Greece and southern Italy in the early 1960s. People in the region tended to be physically active and consumed a diet rich in olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits and vegetable. They consumed moderate amounts of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), fish and wine; they seldom ate meat and meat products.
A past study established that dominant components of the Mediterranean diet that lower mortality are moderate consumption of alcohol, low consumption of meat and meat products, and high consumption of vegetables, fruits and nuts, olive oil, and legumes.

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