A new study from Spain suggests that a Mediterranean diet may help undo a condition known as metabolic syndrome.
Mediterranean Diet is the technique of following food pattern based on the traditional foods (and drinks) of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. The word diet shouldn’t be confused with dieting; though it aids weight loss.
The main features of a Mediterranean-style diet can be outlined as:
- Eating large amount of fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole-grain breads and legumes
- Replacing butter with olive oil or canola oil
- Eating fish or poultry at least twice a week
- Lowering consumption of red meat to no more than once a week
- Controlling on sweets consuming habits
- Drinking an occasional glass of wine
- Avoiding trans fats and saturated fats, which are very bad for our hearts
Metabolic syndrome is a clump of metabolic risk factors including risk of abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension (high blood pressure), low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, and an increased risk for blood clotting.
About 25% of adults around the world have metabolic syndrome.
A clinical trial published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) shows that with by supplementing the diet with nuts or more olive oil, certain heart risk factors can be improved but cannot stop others from getting affected.
The five years study which included both men and women aged 55–80 years, showed that as compared to a low-fat diet it didn’t lessen the risk of developing metabolic syndrome but did reverse the metabolic syndrome.
“A healthy diet, like the Mediterranean diet, with a moderate-high intake of vegetable fat (in form of virgin olive oil or nuts) is a good healthy option for the prevention of several cardiovascular risk factors and chronic disease,” said lead researcher Dr. Jordi Salas-Salvado, a professor of nutrition at the Universitat Rovira I Virgili and Hospital Universitari de Sant Joan de Reus, in Spain.
The 5801 study participants followed random diet plan provided to them.The three type of diets were: A Mediterranean diet enhanced by extra-virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts and a low-fat diet.
Almost 64% (3707) of the participants suffered from metabolic syndrome when the study was started.
The researchers at the end of the whole study period i.e. after 4.8 years discovered that people in the two Mediterranean diet groups has lessened central obesity and blood glucose levels and 958 participants (28.2%) got rid of any metabolic syndrome symptoms.
“In this large, multicentre, randomized clinical trial involving people with high cardiovascular risk, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil was associated with a smaller increase in the prevalence of metabolic syndrome compared with advice on following a low-fat diet,” said Dr. Salas-Salvadó.
“Because there were no between-group differences in weight loss or energy expenditure, the change is likely attributable to the difference in dietary patterns.”
Metabolic syndrome is also called syndrome X, insulin resistance syndrome, or dysmetabolic syndrome.
Olive oil-rich diets have been proven to reduce blood pressure and most nuts are also enriched with Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Salas-Salvado emphasized that US can adopt the Mediterranean style diet if dedicated for cooking as foods are easily available to prepare and eat.