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Mediterranean Diets Decrease American Heart Risks

Update Date: Feb 04, 2014 07:18 PM EST
mediterranean diet, olive, salad
Americans who eat like Italians are less likely to suffer heart disease, according to a new study. (Photo : Pixabay)

Americans who eat like Italians are less likely to suffer heart disease, according to a new study.

Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health examined a large group of Midwestern firefighters and found with lower risk factors for cardiovascular disease among those with greater adherence to Mediterranean-style diet.

"Our study adds more evidence showing the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, even after adjusting for exercise and body weight," said Stefanos Kales, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Health at HSPH and chief of occupational and environmental medicine at CHA, said in a news release.

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After analyzing medical and lifestyle data, which included dietary habits from an existing cohort of 780 male firefighters in the Midwest, researchers found that firefighters in the group with greatest adherence to Mediterranean-style diet showed a 35 percent decreased risk in metabolic syndrome, a condition with risk factors that include a large waistline, high triglyceride level, low HDL ("good") cholesterol level, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar. This group also had a 43 percent lower risk of weight gain compared to the firefighters who reported least adherence to Mediterranean-style diet.

Researchers said the latest study suggests that promoting Mediterranean-style diets could have significant health benefits for young, working populations.

"The logical next steps from our investigation are studies using the workplace to specifically promote Mediterranean dietary habits among firefighters and other U.S. workers," lead researcher Justin Yang said in a news release.

The findings are published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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