Scientists from the University of Córdoba in Spain found that the Mediterranean diet may protect artery health and protect heart health.
The research is published in Stroke and was conducted by Jose Jimenez-Torres et al.
Coronary heart disease is the damage or disease in the heart’s major blood vessels.
The usual cause is the build-up of plaque. This causes coronary arteries to narrow, limiting blood flow to the heart.
Lifestyle and diet can affect coronary heart disease risk, although there is currently no conclusion about the best dietary method for the prevention of heart disease.
The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating that’s based on the traditional cuisines of Greece, Italy, and other countries that border the Mediterranean Sea.
Plant-based foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices, are the foundation of the diet.
Previous research has found that the Mediterranean diet could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, protect against type 2 diabetes, increase longevity, and slow down aging.
In the study, researchers examined 939 people with coronary heart disease. They aimed to see if eating the Mediterranean diet could help reduce heart disease events.
They compared the effect of 2 healthy dietary patterns (low-fat rich in complex carbohydrates versus a Mediterranean diet rich in extra virgin olive oil) on heart disease events.
The participants were asked to follow either the Mediterranean diet or a low-fat diet. The researchers tested their artery health at 5 and 7 years.
The researchers found that the Mediterranean diet decreased plaque thickness in the artery walls at 5 years and maintained it at 7 years compared to before the experiment.
The low-fat diet did not change plaques in arteries.
The researchers also found plaque thickness and height were much more decreased after the Mediterranean diet, compared to the low-fat diet, throughout the follow-up period.
Based on the results, the team concluded that eating the Mediterranean diet rich in extra virgin olive oil was linked to lower plaque development in artery walls.
These findings reinforce the benefits of the Mediterranean diet in heart disease prevention.
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