The Mediterranean diet along with supplemental extra-virgin olive oil and nuts could help reverse metabolic syndrome, Spanish researchers say in a study that was published Tuesday.
Some 25% of adults suffer from metabolic syndrome, which increases their risk of stroke, heart disease and diabetes. The disease itself is the result of a combination of at least three of the following symptoms: high blood pressure, blood sugar, triglycerides, low HDL-cholesterol and obesity.
But according to the results of a clinical trial published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the Mediterranean diet — consisting of fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, and limited bad fats — can reverse the diagnosis.
Researchers put 5,801 men and women ages 55-80 on a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, supplemented with nuts, or a low fat diet as a control group. While 64% of the participants had metabolic syndrome at the beginning of the study, 28.2% of people on the diet with the syndrome no longer met the criteria after just under 5 years.
“Because there were no between-group differences in weight loss or energy expenditure, the change is likely attributable to the difference in dietary patterns,” said Dr. Jordi Salas-Salvadó, a co-author of the study. However, according to the study, “we found no beneficial effect of a Mediterranean diet on incidence of new-onset metabolic syndrome” — meaning the diet doesn’t help prevent the syndrome from occurring, a finding different from that of previous similar studies.