According to the study, a diet rich in olive oil, fish, fresh fruit and vegetables and nuts can cut the risk of cardiovascular problems. For their study, researchers at the Universidad de Navarra in Pamplona divided almost 7,500 participants into three groups, each one following a different diet over a period of five years but all of them at a risk of heart disease. Two of the groups were put on a Mediterranean diet but the first one was supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, while the second had nuts added to it. The third group was put on a "control" diet that consisted of plenty of low-fat dairy products, grains and fruits and vegetables.
This approach allowed researchers to look into the effect of the different diets on heart disease risk factors independently from other factors. Results showed that people following both variants of the Mediterranean diet were 28% to 30% less likely to develop heart disease, compared to those from the third group. Overall, during the five years of the study, 288 participants suffered from a heart attack or a stroke or died of cardiovascular disease.
Researcher Dr Miguel Angel Martinez-Gonzalez commented that the findings from the study were encouraging because the main cause for deaths from cardiovascular disease can be prevented by a good diet.