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A Delicious Diet to Reduce Metabolic Syndrome Risk

A study published in the December 2008 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine found that a traditional plus an extra serving of nuts may significantly reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome in older adults.

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes that has been linked to an increased risk of type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The study included 1,224 participants from the PREDIMED (Prevencion con Dieta Mediterranea) study, which sought to determine how effective the Mediterranean diet is in preventing cardiovascular disease.

To answer that question, researchers from the University of Rovira i Virgili in Spain randomly assigned the study participants to one of three diets for a period of one year. All of the participants were over the age of 50 and considered to be at high risk for heart disease.

The first group received instructions on how to follow a low fat diet. The second group was taught how to follow a Mediterranean diet, and provided one liter of virgin olive oil per week. The final group also received information about following a Mediterranean diet, but instead of olive oil they received 30 grams of mixed nuts daily.

After one year, researchers evaluated all of the study participants and found that the group who followed a Mediterranean diet with nuts had a 13 percent reduction in metabolic syndrome while the olive oil group saw a 6 percent reduction. Those in the low fat group did not see a significant decrease in metabolic syndrome risk.

The Mediterranean diet includes lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, olive oil and fish… and limited consumption of dairy, red meat, and saturated fats. In addition to heart benefits, this diet has also been linked to decreased risk for diabetes and cancer.

The researchers note that the unique part about this study is that the decrease in metabolic syndrome risk was the result of diet alone. There was no increase in physical exercise or decrease in weight.

The researchers attribute the positive results of this study to the abundant nutrients found in the Mediterranean diet like omega-3 fatty acids, unsaturated fats, fiber, potassium, calcium and magnesium.
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