9 April 2015

Did you know that a Mediterranean diet, with added olive oil and nuts, helps reduce abdominal obesity? This is one of the findings of the PREDIMED study: take note because this is something we all want to hear.

Middle-age spread, or whatever you want to call it, is more than an aesthetic issue; it’s our health at stake. Abdominal obesity can be the symptom of metabolic syndrome: a series of alterations that lead to high blood pressure, low levels of “good” cholesterol, high levels of triglycerides and high concentrations of blood sugar, among others. This can affect 25% of adults in developed countries and leads to the risk of diabetes, heart disease and increased mortality. It’s no joke.

A flat stomach is a sign of good health. But how do we go about it? A Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil and nuts. According to a recent study, 28.2% of those suffering metabolic syndrome managed to reverse it thanks to an improved diet.

This research studied 5,801 men and women aged 55–80 with a high risk of cardiovascular disease: almost 64% had metabolic syndrome. Participants were randomly assigned a particular diet: some followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil; others followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts; and others followed a low-fat diet. After an average of 4.8 years of monitoring, researchers concluded that those who had followed a Mediterranean diet had reduced their waistline and levels of blood glucose. And 28.2% stopped suffering metabolic syndrome.

“Since there were no differences between the groups in terms of weight loss or calorie intake, the observed changes can probably be attributed to the different diets,” says Dr Jordi Salas-Salvadó, who led the project. This study is endorsed by Rovira i Virgili University and was carried out as part of the PREDIMED project studying the effectiveness of the Mediterranean diet in preventing cardiovascular disease.

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