So professor of medicine Dr. Ramon Estruch and other researchers from the University of Barcelona traveled the globe to determine whether diet alone can be used to treat people who are at high risk of heart disease and then came up with a fail-proof method to test that hypothesis, the New York Times reports.
After consulting with professionals from around the globe, the researchers rounded up 7,447 people from Spain that exhibited all of the risk factors associated with heart disease, including smoking and excess weight, and split them into three control groups.
One of these was instructed to follow a low fat diet, while the other two groups were encouraged to consume stipulated quantities of olive oil or nuts; drinkers were even encouraged to drink seven glasses of wine each week.
After five years the study concluded early because of overwhelming evidence that a Mediterranean diet reduces risk of heart disease by 30 percent, according to NYT.
Rachel Johnson, a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association, told the paper that she thought the study was very impressive.
“And the really important thing — the coolest thing — is that they used very meaningful endpoints. They did not look at risk factors like cholesterol or hypertension or weight. They looked at heart attacks and strokes and death. At the end of the day, that is what really matters,” she said.
Even though no weight loss occurred as a result of the new diet, which eliminated processed, sugary foods while permitting high calorie nuts and oils, participants of the study experienced a dramatic increase in health and in a shorter amount of time than Dr. Estruch expected. He said he was surprised.
Results of the study were recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine and some researchers have since expressed doubt of their merits. Doctors who advocate for vegan diets, for example, claim that the “awful control diet” of toxic junk food actually caused some of the participants to die of stroke or heart attack.
The researchers did admit that more research must be done to determine whether the diet would be effective for people who are at low risk of disease.
Other diets that complement the Med diet featured on websites like https://www.tasteaholics.com, includes the keto diet. The keto or ketogenic diet is a high-fat, protein and low carb diet that is used by nutritionists and doctors to force the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates.