Mediterranean diet may reverse metabolic syndrome

Researchers from Spain say that the much-touted Mediterranean diet may be able to reverse metabolic syndrome--having three or more risk factors for cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

The Mediterranean diet includes high consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts, reducing intake of red meat, eating fish and poultry at least twice a week, and replacing butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil.

For their study, the research team analyzed men and women aged 55 to 80 who were at high risk of cardiovascular disease. At study baseline, 64 percent of participants had metabolic syndrome. All individuals were a part of the PREDIMED trial - an ongoing study that aims to assess the effects of a Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular diseases. Participants were randomized to follow one of three diets: a low-fat diet, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts or a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil. Researchers did follow-ups for an average of 4.8 years.

Results of the study revealed that participants who followed the Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts and the Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil saw a reduction in blood glucose levels and abdominal obesity. Furthermore, 28.2 percent of participants who followed the Mediterranean diets did not meet the criteria for metabolic syndrome by the end of the study.

While the results are promising, the researchers note that there are some limitations to their study. They point out that because study participants were older individuals at high risk of cardiovascular disease, their findings cannot be generalized to the entire population.

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