Women whose diets most closely match the traditional Mediterranean diet — high in monounsaturated fat, plant proteins, whole grains and fish — are significantly less likely to develop heart disease and stroke, according to American researchers.
In a study of women who participated in the famed Nurses’ Health Study, those whose diets most closely resembled the Mediterranean one – compared to those whose diet least matched it – had a 29 per cent reduction in heart disease risk and a 13 per cent reduction in stroke risk.
Women on the Mediterranean-style diet had a 39 per cent reduction in combined coronary heart disease and stroke mortality compared to women whose diets least matched it.
During 20 years of follow-up, researchers found 2,391 incidents of coronary heart disease, 1,763 strokes and a combined total of 1,077 fatal heart attacks and strokes.
Previous studies showed a link between the Mediterranean diet and a reduced risk of cardiovascular death in men and women. This is one of the few studies with enough participants to meaningfully examine the incidence of non-fatal heart disease or stroke individually.
Early Online Edition of Circulation, available at www.circ.ahajournals.org