This past February, The New England Journal of Medicine reported on a study that compared three versions of the already heart-healthy Mediterranean Diet.
All three of the diets followed basic “Med Rules,” which include a diet rich in beans, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, unsaturated fats (mostly from oils), and alcohol in moderation with meals.
These diets were low in saturated fats from cheese and red meats, low in sugar and refined or processed foods.
In this study done over five years, 7500 people were split into 3 dietary groups.
Group one (the placebo) just ate a normal Mediterranean diet which they labeled a low fat diet. It should be noted that this so-called low fat diet still allowed some lean red meat and olive oil – so not so low fat.
Group two ate the same diet, but had free olive oil delivered regularly during the study.
Group three ate the same, but had free nuts delivered regularly during the study.
Groups two and three were told they could eat as many nuts and olive oil as they wanted, assuming they would naturally eat more of the free food.
All three groups were on a traditional Mediterranean diet, but were told to cut back on red or processed meats, pastries and sweets.
While none of the groups gained any weight during the study, groups two and three had a 30% reduction in cardiovascular events (heart attacks and strokes) compared to group one (the low fat diet) who did not eat any extra nuts or olive oil (1).
The Take Away
The take away here seems to be that adding good healthy fats to our diet from olive oil and nuts is only good for the ticker.