Diet has always been one major factor in the development of heart disease. Just recently, it was found that Brits who eat a Mediterranean diet have a reduced risk of developing heart disease. The diet can allegedly save up to 20,000 Britons a year.
Medical News Today reported that a new study revealed that the diet could reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and even death. Foods that are typically included in a Mediterranean diet are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts – and low in red meats and unhealthy fats. It also mixes regular consumption of fish and poultry.
In the study, researchers found that healthy Brits who strictly follow a Mediterranean-type of diet had 6 to 16 percent reduced the risk of future cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to individuals who had poor adherence. Dr. Nita Forouhi, lead author of the study of the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom and her team conducted an investigation of how adherence to a Mediterranean diet affects the risk of developing CVD. It also wants to know how much CVD cases and deaths might be prevented in the UK if the diet is strictly followed.
“The benefits of the Mediterranean diet for cardiovascular health are well documented in countries of the Mediterranean region, but this is the first study to evaluate this in the UK. If our findings are broadly representative of the overall UK population, then we can assume that higher level of adherence to the Mediterranean diet could have a significant impact on lowering the cardiovascular disease burden in the UK,” said Dr. Forouhi.
The researchers gathered data from 23,902 initially healthy Brits who took part in the EPIC-Norfolk prospective cohort study. The participants’ diets were measured using food frequency questionnaires. They were then followed up for an average of 12 to 17 years to study the relationship between strictly following the Mediterranean diet and the occurrence of new-onset CVD and deaths during that time, reported Medical Xpress. Researchers used the 15 point score definition of the Mediterranean diet which was based on recommendations of a Mediterranean dietary pyramid published by the Mediterranean Diet Foundation.
This was the first time the guidelines were used to test its relationship with health. Although there are other definitions that compose a Mediterranean diet, it showed that when these alternative definitions were used in the study, the findings were largely similar. “Encouraging greater adoption of the Mediterranean diet looks like a promising component of a wider strategy to help prevent cardiovascular disease, including other important factors such as not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight, blood cholesterol, and blood pressure,” explained Dr. Forouhi.
The Sun also reported that the authors of the study admit that the findings were all based on an observational study and the cause and effect of each factor cannot be determined. However, they were very careful to make thorough adjustments for lifestyle and other factors that could potentially alter the results. These plus the consistent results of studies in other countries showed that the current findings gave strong evidence for a connection.
This made Dr. Forouhi conclude: “Our study shows that higher versus lower adherence to a Mediterranean-type diet is linked to lower future CVD risk in the UK but our challenge now is to understand the social, economic and cultural factors that might support or prevent people being able to keep to this dietary pattern in the UK.”