The Mediterranean diet is a pattern of eating that lately has become a darling of medical researchers. It includes vegetables and grains, not so much meat and, of course, generous portions of olive oil.
Mary Flynn, an associate professor of medicine at Brown University, says the evidence that olive oil is good for your heart has never been more clear. “Olive oil is a very healthy food,” she says. “I consider it more medicine than food.”
She points to a big study published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine where researchers in Spain had men and women in their 50s, 60s and 70s who were at risk of heart disease follow one of three diets.
Some ate a low-fat diet, another group ate a Mediterranean diet with nuts. And a third group ate a Mediterranean diet that included almost four tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil per day.
“So, they could compare the three diets: Was it nuts, was it olive oil or was the low-fat diet beneficial?” says Flynn.
And what researchers found was that a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes by 30 percent. The nut group, which was consuming olive oil as well, did well, too.
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