Want to improve your heart health? Try eating a Mediterranean-style diet, which has shown to be beneficial by preventing or even reversing metabolic syndrome -- that's a collective term for a whole group of risk factors linked to heart disease and diabetes, including abdominal fat, low "good" HDL-cholesterol levels, high fat levels in the blood, high blood pressure and high blood sugar.
The Mediterranean diet consists mainly of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, poultry and fish, with very little red meat, and is characterized by high consumption of monounsaturated fatty acids from olives and olive oil. Experts believe this type of diet has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits on the body.
The finding, published in the Journal of The American College of Cardiology, is based on the results of 50 studies on the Mediterranean diet, with about half a million subjects in total.
"The prevalence of the metabolic syndrome is increasing rapidly throughout the world, in parallel with the increasing incidence of diabetes and obesity, and is now considered a major public health problem," says lead investigator Demosthenes Panagiotakos, Ph.D., associate professor in Biostatistics-Epidemiology of Nutrition, Harokopio University of Athens. "Additionally, the metabolic syndrome is one of the main causes of cardiovascular disease (directly or indirectly)."