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Posted by Matthew Colella Feb 25 2013
New research suggests a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts–specifically walnuts–"significantly" reduces the risk of stroke and cardiovascular diseases.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, findings from the Spanish Predimed (Prevencion von Dieta Mediterranea) trial say walnuts added to a Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of cardiovascular death by as much as 30 percent. Even more promising for StrokeSmart™ readers, the study goes on to say that the diet reduces the risk of stroke by nearly half (49 percent) when compared to a reference diet consisting of only low-fat foods.
"The results of the Predimed trial are of utmost importance because they convincingly demonstrate that a high vegetable fat dietary pattern is superior to a low-fat diet for cardiovascular prevention," says lead researcher Dr. Ramon Estruch. The study's author says the unique nutrient profile of walnuts may be a key factor responsible for the benefits found in the research.
The trial included more than 7,000 individuals (55-80 years old) at high cardiovascular risk who were followed for an average of 4.8 years. In addition to the benefits of the Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts, the research found that the Mediterranean diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil also reduced the risk of cardiovascular diseases by 30 percent.
Estruch says the unique nutrient profile of walnuts may be a key factor responsible for the benefits reported in the study. The researcher says walnuts are the only nut containing significant amounts of alpha-linolenic acid, the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid, that could "work together synergistically" with other antioxidants and nutrients to produce their cardiovascular protective effect.
Funded by the Spanish Ministry of Health, Predimed is one of the world's largest and longest dietary intervention studies aimed at the primary prevention cardiovascular disease.
For more information and to read the entire study, go to the New England Journal of Medicine.
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