Although it has been known for some time that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts was linked to heart health, a major study recently published lends stronger support to the dietary approach to prevention of cardiovascular disease. In a study of over 7000 people in Spain, followed for almost five years, there was a significant difference in the outcome of patients eating a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts compared to a low fat diet. The endpoint of the study was the composite of stroke, heart attack, and cardiovascular death. This study had to be stopped because of the benefit of the Mediterranean diet.

The traditional Mediterranean diet, the researchers noted, is characterized by lots of olive oil, fruit, nuts, vegetables, legumes, and cereals, some fish and poultry, and limited amounts of dairy products, red meat, processed meats, and sweets. As well, the diet includes moderate amounts of wine with meals.

The results were dramatic. Both groups eating the Mediterranean diet had a roughly 30% reduction in outcome events. However, there was no significant difference in weight loss between the groups. This dietary strategy is not about weight, it is about health.

The importance of this study is significant. In addition to proving the efficacy of the dietary intervention in a rigorously performed clinical trial, it demonstrates that the preventive effect of diet is similar to that of intervention with drugs, such as aspirin and statin medications.

More information on the study is available here: