Women who most closely follow a Mediterranean-style diet have a markedly reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes, according to an analysis from the well-known Women’s Health Study, published in JAMA Network Open in December 2018. After having their diets scored for how close they were to the traditional Mediterranean eating pattern, nearly 26,000 American women (average age 54) were followed for 12 years.
Those who had high Mediterranean diet scores were about one-quarter less likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those with low scores. Even women with medium scores were at reduced risk.
After further analysis of cardiovascular disease risk factors and biomarkers, the researchers attributed the lower risk largely to a reduction in inflammation and improvements in blood sugar control, body weight, blood pressure, and HDL (“good”) cholesterol. The Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, legumes, olive oil, and fish; low in processed and red meat; and moderate in alcohol.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
Also see Mediterranean vs. Vegetarian Diets.