Over on CardioExchange three world-class experts– Walter Willett, Arthur Agatston, and Alice Lichtenstein– discuss the PREDIMED trial that earlier this week gave a big boost to the Mediterranean diet. I highly recommend you read the entire discussion on CardioExchange. Here are a few excerpts.
Many practitioners have not given enough emphasis to diet for prevention and management of cardiovascular disease. It is good to keep in mind that the effect of this diet was comparable to that of statins, and there are many beneficial side effects compared with statins…
[The Mediterranean diet] stands as the gold standard. One of the real advantages of the Mediterranean diet is that it is enjoyable and offers great variety, so people are able to stay with it for many years, in contrast to most more restrictive diets.
Unintended experiments — such as America’s low-fat, high-carbohydrate movement that ushered in low-fat, processed carbohydrate foods with no precedent in traditional diets — turned out to play an important role in today’s obesity and diabetes epidemics. It is just not feasible to perform trials of the efficacy of truly new diets… The Mediterranean diet, which has stood the test of time, has the advantage of being palatable and, thus, being adopted as a lifestyle with sustained positive outcomes.
The early separation of events between the recipients of the Mediterranean interventions and the controls was impressive…. Therefore, the Mediterranean diet’s effects may be anti-inflammatory rather than just antiatherogenic. That possibility tends to make me more aggressive in recommending the diet for both short- and long-term benefits.
The study confirms what we have known for more than a decade — namely, that the total fat content of the diet has little effect on cardiovascular outcomes and that the important variable is the type of fat.
We don’t know from this study whether other vegetable oils or foods rich in PUFAs or MUFAs, when integrated with a characteristically Mediterranean diet, would have had the same benefit. It is likely they would.