Mediterranean-style diet reduces stroke risk in heart patients

People with heart disease have a lower risk of heart attack and strokes if they eat a Mediterranean-style diet, according to an international study of more than 15,000 people in 39 countries.

The study is the latest to extol the potential benefits of consuming fruit, vegetables, fish and unrefined foods. It found that for every 100 people with heart disease eating the highest proportion of healthy Mediterranean foods, there were three fewer heart attacks, strokes or deaths compared with 100 people eating the least amount of healthy foods during a three-and-a-half-year period. The researchers also found that consumption of a so-called western diet - deep-fried foods, refined carbohydrates and sugary drinks – did not increase the risk of such events. They suggested that this showed eating greater amounts of healthy food was more important for people with heart disease than avoiding unhealthy foods.

Prof Ralph Stewart, from Auckland City hospital in New Zealand, who led the study, said: “The main message is that some foods – and particularly fruit and vegetables – seem to lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and this benefit is not explained by traditional risk factors such as good and bad cholesterol or blood pressure. If you eat more of these foods in preference to others, you may lower your risk.” He added: “The study found no evidence of harm from modest consumption of foods such as refined carbohydrates, deep-fried foods, sugars and desserts.”

Public health guidelines already advise that a Mediterranean diet can help prevent cardiovascular disease but the authors of the paper, published on Monday in the European Heart Journal, wanted to look specifically at the effects on people who already had heart disease.

Source  - Guardian