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Mediterranean Diet Cuts Artery Disease Risk

Update Date: Jan 21, 2014 05:27 PM EST

Eating like a Spaniard may help prevent heart disease, according to a new study.

Previous studies revealed that eating a Mediterranean diet lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke. However, a new study reveals that eating a Mediterranean diet supplemented by extra-virgin olive oil or nuts cuts the risk of peripheral artery disease.

Lead researcher Miguel Ruiz-Canela, Ph.D., of the University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, and colleagues, looked at 7,477 participants from October 2033 and December 2010. Participants were men and between 55 to 80 years old or women between 60 to 80 years old.

Participants either had type 2 diabetes or at least three cardiovascular risk factors.

They were randomly divided into three groups: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil; a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts; or counseling on a low-fat diet (control group).

The findings revealed that both Mediterranean diet interventions were associated with a lower risk of PAD compared with the control group.

"To our knowledge, this is the first randomized primary prevention trial to suggest an association between a dietary intervention and [reduction in] PAD. These results are consistent with previous observational studies and relevant from a public health perspective," researchers wrote in the study.

The findings are published in the journal JAMA.

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