Researchers for the PREDIMED study reviewed data that followed about 7,500 adults aged 55 to 80 who had a high risk of developing heart disease. The people were divided into 3 groups: one was assigned to eat a Mediterranean Diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil; one was assigned to eat a Mediterranean Diet enriched with nuts; and one was assigned to a control group that received advice on following a low-fat diet. Over five years a total of 89 participants developed peripheral artery disease (PAD), which deposits plaque in the arteries of the legs, restricting blood flow, and can cause pain during walking. Participants in the control group developed PAD at a rate of about 0.5% per year. The Med Diet with nuts group experienced half that rate, and the Med Diet with olive oil group experienced an even lower rate of 0.15% per year. Researchers believe this is the first randomized primary prevention trial to suggest an association between diet and reduced rates of PAD.
JAMA. 2014; 311(4):415-417 [Ruiz-Canela M, Estruch R, Corella D, Salas-Salvadó J, Martínez-González MA].