Health Studies

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.]

Med Diet Lowers Risk of Overall Heart Disease

Researchers at the University of Miami examined the relationship between a Mediterranean diet and risk of ischemic stroke, myocardial infarction, and vascular death among 2568 participants (black, Hispanic and white). Adherence to the Mediterranean diet was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire; the higher the score the greater the adherence to the Mediterranean diet.  The relationship between the Mediterranean diet and risk of ischemic stroke, myocardial infarction, and vascular death was assessed using Cox models, with control for socio-demographic and vascular risk factors.  Over a mean follow-up of 9 years, 518 vascular events accrued (171 ischemic strokes, 133 MI’s, and 314 vascular deaths).  The results of this study showed an inverse relationship between consumption of a Mediterranean diet and decreased risk of vascular events, supporting a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fish and olive oil as a way to promote health and decrease cardiovascular risks. 
American Journal of Nutrition 2011 Dec; 94(6):1458-64. (Gardener et al.)

Whole Grains: Key Component of Med Diet

University of Granada (Spain) researchers evaluated studies that support the consumption of whole grain cereals and bread, key components of the Mediterranean diet, to prevent chronic diseases.  Several studies have consistently shown that subjects who ingest three or more portions of whole-grain cereal-based foods per day have a 20-30% lower risk of coronary vascular disease than subjects who ingest low quantities of cereals.  This level of protection is not observed with ingestion of refined cereals.  Similarly, high intake of whole grain cereals and their products, such as whole-wheat bread, is associated with a 20-30% reduction in the risk of type-2 diabetes.  Finally, regular consumption of whole grain cereals and derived products has shown protection against the risk of colorectal cancer and polyps, other cancers of the digestive tract, cancers related to hormones, and pancreatic cancer, as well.
Journal of Public Health Nutrition 2011 Dec; 1412A):2316-22 (Gil et al.)

Less Inflammation, Oxidative Stress with Med Diet

Italian researchers studied the diets of 131 healthy adults, and rated each person's diet for overall adherence to a traditional Mediterranean Diet. They compared this "Mediterranean Diet Score" to blood test results of cholesterol and triglycerides, antioxidant levels, immune system function and oxidative stress. They found that those with a higher Med Diet Score had less inflammation, reduced oxidative stress, and higher circulating levels of antioxidants, all of which are associated with reduced risk of disease.
Nutrition Journal, November 16, 2011; 10(1):125 [Epub ahead of print] (Azzini et al.)

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