Heart risk reduced by switching to a Mediterranean diet

Heart risk reduced by switching to a Mediterranean diet
Several research studies in 2018 and 2019 have shown that the colourful Mediterranean Diet, or Rainbow Diet, is capable of reducing Heart attack risk, blood pressure and Stroke risk by a significant factor.
 The Journal of the American Heart Association reports that simply switching one meat meal for a plant based meal can reduce risk of heart attacks. In a meta-study of 112 randomised, controlled studies (1)  the researchers showed that swapping animal fats for plant based protein reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Observing the effects on three markers for cholesterol,  low-density lipoprotein (LDL or bad’ cholesterol),  high density lipoprotein (HDL or good cholesterol)  and apolipoprotein B, (a specific protein found in bad cholesterol that clogs arteries), they concluded that just substituting one or two meat or dairy meals with plant protein slashed the risk of heart disease. High-fibre foods had a further helpful effect.

“We are seeing a major interest in plant-based diets from Mediterranean to vegetarian diets in the supermarket and the clinic, and this comprehensive analysis of the highest level of evidence from randomized trials provides us with more confidence that these diets are heart healthy,” said lead researcher Dr. John Sievenpiper.
In a December 2018 study(2) in JAMA Network Open, women who follow the colourful Mediterranean Diet for 12 years are more than a quarter (28%) less likely to have a stroke or a heart attack than women who follow a more Western Diet. The data was taken from the Boston Nurses study on 26,000 women. 

The research concluded that this was due to a lowered blood sugar level, lowered inflammation, lowered body weight, lowered blood pressure and lowered LDL cholesterol.

In a third smaller study(3), a low calorie Vegetarian diet was compared with the Mediterranean diet. The Vegetarian diet allowed no meat but did allow eggs and dairy. Half the participants consumed one of the two diets for three months, then the participants all switched diets.

Little difference was seen in body weight changes, body mass index or fat mass. However, significant difference were observed in triglycerides, LDL and B-12 levels. The Mediterranean Diet was better at reducing triglyceride levels, the non-meat Vegetarian Diet better at reducing LDL levels, but with a loss of B-12.

In 2019, 40 Professors from the fields of heart disease, diabetes and cancer along with expert nutritionists voted the colourful Mediterranean Diet the 'Healthiest Diet in the World' and the 'best Plant Based Diet' in a food survey (4) involving other well known diets (Ketogenic Diet, DASH diet, Paleo Diet) and organised by US Today. 


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  1. Siying S. Li, Sonia Blanco Mejia, Lyubov Lytvyn, Sarah E. Stewart, Effie Viguiliouk, Vanessa Ha, Russell J. de Souza, Lawrence A. Leiter, Cyril W. C. Kendall, David J. A. Jenkins, John L. Sievenpiper  
  2. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2717565
  3. https://ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.117.030088
  4. https://the-rainbow-diet.com/the-colourful-mediterranean-diet/rainbow-diet-voted-healthiest-diet/


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