October 16, 2014
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Metabolic syndrome reversed by Mediterranean diet, olive oil, nuts

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Consuming a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts could reverse cardiometabolic syndrome, according to research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

In patients at high risk for cardiovascular disease, eating an energy-unrestricted Mediterranean diet may be beneficial in reducing the risks for central obesity and hyperglycemia, Spanish researchers contend.

“Mediterranean diets supplemented with olive oil or nuts were not associated with a reduced incidence of metabolic syndrome compared with a low-fat diet; however, both diets were associated with a significant rate of reversion of metabolic syndrome,” the researchers wrote.

Nancy Babio, PhD, with Jordi Salas-Salvadó, MD, PhD, both of Hospital Universitari de Sant Joan de Reus, and colleagues conducted a secondary analysis of the multicenter, randomized PREDIMED trial (October 2003-December 2010) involving men and women (aged 55-80 years) at high risk for CVD.

The researchers looked at data for 5,801 participants (nearly 64% with metabolic syndrome at baseline) assigned to a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil; a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts; or guidance on following a low-fat diet (control group).

Cox regression analysis was used to calculate HRs and 95% CIs to quantify the effect of diet on incidence and reversion of metabolic syndrome during nearly 5 years of follow-up. Physical activity and weight loss were not included as goals in the study.

Metabolic syndrome developed in 50% of participants who did not have it as baseline; the risk for developing the syndrome did not differ between the control and Mediterranean diets (control vs. olive oil, HR=1.1; 95% CI, 0.94-1.3 and control vs. nuts, HR=1.08; 95% CI, 0.92-1.27).

Reversion occurred in 28.2% of participants who had metabolic syndrome at baseline; compared with controls, participants were more likely to experience reversion on either Mediterranean diet (control vs. olive oil, HR=1.35; 95% CI, 1.15-1.58 and control vs. nuts, HR=1.28; 95% CI, 1.08-1.51).

Olive oil supplementation helped patients achieve significant decreases in central obesity and high fasting glucose (P=.02), whereas nuts offered a significant decrease in central obesity only.

“Because there were no between-group differences in weight loss or energy expenditure, the change is likely attributable to the difference in dietary patterns,” the researchers wrote.

Disclosure: Please see study for full list of researchers’ financial disclosures.