Mediterranean diet protects those with heart disease from stroke

People who suffer from heart disease could lower their risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack by eating a Mediterranean diet, according to a new international study carried out by a team in New Zealand.
The research involved 15,482 people from 39 countries, with an average age of 67 years. The participants had to answer a number of questions about their diet, and the researchers gave them scores from 0 to 24 based on how ‘Western’ or ‘Mediterranean’ their diet and eating habits were.
Over the four-year study period, the researchers found that there were three fewer strokes, heart attacks or deaths for every 100 people eating a strongly Mediterranean diet, compared to 100 people whose diet least resembled a Mediterranean diet.
Professor Ralph Stewart, the study leader, said: “After adjusting for other factors that might affect the results, we found that every one unit increase in the Mediterranean diet score was associated with a seven per cent reduction in the risk of heart attacks, strokes or death from cardiovascular or other causes in patients with existing heart disease.”
“In contrast, greater consumption of foods thought to be less healthy and more typical of Western diets was not associated with an increase in these adverse events, which we had not expected,” he added.
A conclusion the researchers drew from their study was that the greater emphasis for heart disease sufferers should be to increase the amount of health food in their diet, rather than avoiding unhealthy food.
A Mediterranean diet includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, whole grains and other unrefined foods. It also includes a small amount of red wine each day. It has been associated with a range of health benefits over the years, and is strongly recommended by many health experts.

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