Health Studies

Eat Olive Oil to Improve Bone Health

Spanish researchers seeking information on prevention of osteoporosis placed 127 elderly men on one of three different healthy diet plans – a Med Diet enriched with nuts, a Med Diet enriched with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or a control low-fat diet – for a period of two years. Two important markers of bone health increased significantly with the olive-oil enriched Med Diet, but not with the other two diets, suggesting positive effects on bone.
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2012 August 1. [Epub ahead of print] [Fernández-Real et al.]

Virgin Olive Oil & Med Diet Turn Off Pro-Inflammatory Genes in Elderly

In the elderly, chronic low-grade inflammation can accelerate atherosclerosis. Scientists in Córdoba, Spain carried out a study to determine how dietary fats change the expression of genes involved with this kind of inflammation. In the study, twenty healthy elderly people followed three different diets for three weeks each: a Mediterranean Diet high in monounsaturated fat from virgin olive oil (VOO), a diet rich in saturated fat, and a low-fat, high-carb diet. They found that the diet featuring virgin olive oil reduced postprandial inflammation in cells.
British Journal of Nutrition. 2012 Aug;108(3):500-8. Camargo et al.

Med Diet Early; Less Arterial Stiffness Later

Starting a good diet early makes a difference in one’s later years. That’s the conclusion of researchers in Maastricht, the Netherlands. As part of the Amsterdam Growth and Health Longevity Study, they assessed the Mediterranean Diet adherence during adolescence and young adulthood, and compared this to arterial stiffness measured by ultrasonography at age 36. They found that the women (all were women) who followed the Med Diet most closely had the healthiest arteries, with the least evidence of stiffening.
Journal of Internal Medicine. 2012 July 19. [Epub ahead of print] [van de Laar et al]

Avocado, Olive Oil Improve Fertility

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that women who regularly eat avocados, olive oil, and other monounsaturated fats were 3.4 times more likely to conceive a child when undergoing IVF (in vitro fertilization). After studying the fat intake of 147 women, they found that those consuming the most saturated fat produced fewer good eggs.
Preliminary results presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (Istanbul) – not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal. 2012 July.

Virgin Olive Oil and Nuts Lower Inflammatory Markers

researchers involved with the PREDIMED trial compared inflammatory markers in three groups of adults involved in an intervention trial where one group’s diet was supplemented with virgin olive oil (VOO), the second group’s diet was supplemented with nuts, and the third group ate a low fat diet. After three months, both the VOO group and the nuts group had lower levels of several inflammation markers.
Pharmacological Research. 2012 Jun;65(6):577-83. Urpi-Sarda et al.

Polyphenol-rich Med Diet Foods Benefit Cognition

As part of the PREDIMED Trial, scientists in Spain studied 447 elderly men and women at high cardiovascular risk to find possible associations between polyphenol-rich foods common to the Mediterranean Diet and better cognitive function. They found that overall consumption of anti-oxidant-rich foods was associated with better cognitive performance, and that olive oil, coffee, and walnuts were especially associated with cognitive health.
Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 2012 April; 29(4):773-82. [Valis-Pedret et al.]

Lower Breast Cancer Risk with Med Diet

935 women and 817 controls participating in the MASTOS case-control study in Cyprus answered a 32-item Food Frequency Questionnaire to assess their adherence to a Mediterranean Diet. Although overall Med Diet adherence did not prove to be correlated with breast cancer risk in this study, researchers found that a diet high in fish, vegetables, legumes and olive oil may reduce the risk of breast cancer.
BMC Cancer. 2012 March 23; 12:113. [Demetriou et al.]

Higher Quality of Life with Med Diet

While many studies assessing the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet are carried out with older adults, the SUN project in Spain studies recent university graduates largely in their middle- or late-thirties. After four years of follow-up, researchers at the University of Las Palmas found that a higher adherence to the Mediterranean Diet was significantly associated with better physical health (vitality, bodily pain, general health) and with most measures of mental health (social and emotional functioning).
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012 March; 66(3):360-8. [Henríquez Sánchez et al.]

Higher Med Diet Score: Lower Diabetes, CVD, Mortality

Scientists at the University of Palermo in Italy used both a 13-question Med Diet Score and a 136-item Food Frequency Questionnaire to assess the diet quality of more than 9100 subjects. They then studied correlations between the subjects’ adherence to a Mediterranean Diet and their health. They found that increased adherence to a Med Diet was associated with a decreased incidence of both diabetes and cardiovascular events, and a decrease in all-cause mortality.
Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases. 2012 March 6 [Epub ahead of print] [Dominguez et al.]

A Little Wine May Be Protective, Post Heart Attack

While many studies have shown that moderate consumption of wine may help prevent cardiovascular disease, scientists in Dijon, France set out to see if moderate wine intake after myocardial infarction would be beneficial. Their two-week clinical intervention trial divided patients into two groups: one following a Med-inspired diet with water, and the other following the same diet with 250ml of red wine. Those drinking the red wine showed a decrease in total cholesterol and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol as well as an increase in antioxidant status and in fluidity of red blood cell membranes.
Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. 2012 February; 56(2):345-51. [Rifler et al.]

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