Tag Archives: Mediterranean Diet

Denise Minger on the Purported Cherry-Picker Ancel Keys

Keys lived his last years in Pioppi, Italy, not near the Tower of Pisa

Here’s her take on Ancel Keys, the father of cardiovascular epidemiology and the what we now consider the healthy Mediterranean diet. She is funny. Warning: Her post is only for serious nutrition science geeks.

Too bad he’s not alive to defend himself. He died young, almost reaching 101.  Check out his New York Times obituary.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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A Little Known Way to Reduce Your Stroke Risk Starting Today

Older adults with high olive oil consumption have a lower risk of stroke, according to French investigators.

Caprese salad: mozzarella cheese, basil, tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil

The Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil, has long been linked to lower rates of stroke.  French researchers wondered if that might be related to higher olive oil consumption.  Triglyceride esters of oleic acid comprise the majority of olive oil, and oleic acid blood levels reflect olive oil consumption.

Have you heard of monounsaturated fatty acids?  Oleic acid is one.

Methodology

Over 7,000 older adults without history of stroke were surveyed with regards to olive oil consumption.  Oleic acid plasma levels were measured in over a thousand of the study participants.  Over the course of five years, 175 strokes occurred.

Compared with those who never used olive oil, those with the highest consumption had a 41% lower risk of stroke.  The researchers made adjustments for other dietary variables, age, physical activity, and body mass index.

In looking at the plasma oleic acid levels, those in the highest third of levels had 73% lower risk of stroke compared to those in the lowest third.

Comments

Results suggest that the olive oil in the Mediterranean diet  may help explain the diet’s protection against stroke.  The researchers didn’t suggest an amount of olive oil that would reduce stroke risk.  I suggest at least one or two tablespoons (15–30 ml) a day, on average.  Olive oil is a key component of the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet and Advanced Mediterranean Diet.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference:  Samieri, C. et al.  Olive oil consumption, plasma oleic acid, and stroke incidence: the Three-City StudyNeurology, Published online before print June 15, 2011, doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e318220abeb

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Right Diet Preserves Brain Function and Size

mp9004223691.jpg  Neurology last year reported that the proper diet seems to help prevent age-related brain shrinkage and cognitive decline.

From the press release:

People with diets high in several vitamins or in omega 3 fatty acids are less likely to have the brain shrinkage associated with Alzheimer’s disease than people whose diets are not high in those nutrients, according to a new study published in the December 28, 2011, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Those with diets high in omega 3 fatty acids and in vitamins C, D, E and the B vitamins also had higher scores on mental thinking tests than people with diets low in those nutrients. These omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D are primarily found in fish. The B vitamins and antioxidants C and E are primarily found in fruits and vegetables.

So the dietary pattern linked to preservation of brain size and function in this study is: high omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins B, C, D, and E. I don’t know if study participants were getting these nutrients from supplements or from food or a combination. (I haven’t read the full article.)

Note that the time-honored Mediterranean diet is also associated with lower rates of dementia and slower rate of age-related mental decline.

I previously reported that a supplement cocktail of three B vitamins slowed the rate of brain shrinkage

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference: Bowman, G.L., et al. Nutrient biomarker patterns, cognitive function, and MRI measures of brain aging. Neurology. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182436598

h/t to Randall Parker at FuturePundit

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Does Olive Oil Protect Against Stroke?

Older adults with high olive oil consumption have a lower risk of stroke, according to French investigators.

The Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil, has long been linked to lower rates of stroke and other health benefits.  The French researchers wondered stroke prevention might be attibutable to higher olive oil consumption.  Triglyceride esters of oleic acid comprise the majority of olive oil, and oleic acid blood levels reflect olive oil consumption. 

Have you heard of monounsaturated fatty acids?  Oleic acid is one.

Methodology

Over 7,000 older adults without history of stroke were surveyed with regards to olive oil consumption.  Oleic acid plasma levels were measured in over a thousand of the study participants.  Over the course of five years, 175 strokes occurred.

Compared with those who never used olive oil, those with the highest consumption had a 41% lower risk of stroke.  The researchers made adjustments for other dietary variables, age, physical activity, and body mass index.

In looking at the plasma oleic acid levels, those in the highest third of levels had 73% lower risk of stroke compared to those in the lowest third.

Comments

Results suggest that the olive oil in the Mediterranean diet  may help explain the diet’s protection against stroke.  They also support my inclusion of olive oil in the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet and Advanced Mediterranean Diet.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference:  Samieri, C. et al.  Olive oil consumption, plasma oleic acid, and stroke incidence: the Three-City StudyNeurology, Published online before print June 15, 2011, doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e318220abeb

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Mediterranean Diet Linked to Brain Preservation

 The Mediterranean diet slowed age-related mental decline in elderly Chicago residents, according to researchers at Rush University Medical Center.  The investigators noted that a Manhattan population following the Mediterranean diet also showed slower mental decline and lower rates of Alzheimers dementia.

Over 3,000 study participants (2,280 blacks, 1,510 whites) were studied for an average of eight years.  Food consumption was determined by questionnaires, and mental function was tested every three years.  Adherence to the Mediterranean diet was judged according to a Mediterranean diet score developed by Panagiotakis, et al.

The greater the adherence to the Greek-style Mediterranean diet, the lower the rate of mental decline over the course of the study.

Mental decline to some extent is a normal part of aging.  If we can avoid it or lessen it’s impact, why not?  A couple ways to do that are regular exercise and the Mediterranean diet.

Would a low-carb Mediterranean diet work just as well or better?  Nobody knows yet.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference:  Tangney, Christine, et al. Adherence to a Mediterranean-type dietary pattern and cognitive decline in a community population.  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010.  doi 10.3945/ajcn.110.007369

 

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Mediterranean Diet Linked to Less Sudden Cardiac Death in Women

"Trust me. You don't want sudden cardiac death until you're very old!"

A Mediterranean-style diet is one of four factors helping to greatly reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death in women, as reported by Reuters on June 5, 2011. The other factors reducing risk were maintainence of a healthy weight, regular exercise, and not smoking.

The study involved women only, so we don’t know if the research, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, applies to men.  I bet it does.

This study confirms many earlier ones linking the Mediterranean diet with longevity and reduced rates of heart disease.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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WHY Is the Mediterranean Diet So Healthy?

I’ve found that nearly everbody’s eyes glaze over if I try to explain how, physiologically, the Mediterranean diet promotes health and longevity.  Below are some of the boring details, for posterity’s sake, mostly from my 2007 book, The Advanced Mediterranean Diet: Lose Weight, Feel Better, Live Longer.

Many of the nutrient-disease associations I mention below are just that: associations, linkages, not hard proof of a benefit.  Available studies are often contradictory.  For instance, there may be 10 observational studies linking whole grain consumption with reduced deaths from heart disease, while three other studies find no association, or even suggest  higher death rates. (I’m making these numbers up.)  If you want hard proof, you’ll have to wait.  A long time.  Such is nutrition science.  Take it all with a grain of salt. 

Also note that the studies supporting my claims below are nearly all done in non-diabetic populations.

Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease, is the No.1 cause of death in the world. It’s responsible for 40% of deaths in the United States and other industrialized Western countries. The Mediterranean diet is particularly suited to mitigating the ravages of coronary heart disease. Mediterranean diet cardiac benefits may be related to its high content of monounsaturated fat (in olive oil), folate, and antioxidants.

The predominant source of fat in the traditional Mediterranean diet is olive oil, which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids. High intake of olive oil reduces blood levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. HDL or “good” cho-lesterol is unaffected. Olive oil tends to lower blood pressure in hypertensive people. Monounsaturated fatty acids reduce cardiovascular risk substantially, particularly when they replace simple sugars and easily digestible starches. Monounsaturated fatty acids and olive oil may also reduce breast cancer risk. The cardioprotective (good for the heart) and cancer-reducing effects of olive oil may be partially explained by the oil’s polyphenolic compounds.
    
Nuts are another good source of monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids, including some omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Nuts have been proven to be cardioprotective. They lower LDL and total cholesterol levels, while providing substantial fiber and numerous micronutrients, such as vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, and folic acid. Compared with those who never or rarely eat nuts, people who eat nuts five or more times per week have 30 to 50% less risk of a fatal heart attack. Lesser amounts of nuts are also cardioprotective, perhaps by reducing lethal heart rhythm dis-turbances. 
    
Another key component of the Mediterranean diet is fish. Fish are excellent sources of protein and are low in cholesterol. Fatty, cold-water fish are particularly good for us because of their omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanaenoic acid (DHA). The other important omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), available in certain plants. Our bodies can convert ALA into EPA and DHA, but not very efficiently. Fish oil supplements, which are rich in EPA, lead to lower total cholesterol and triglyce-ride levels. Fish oil supplements have several properties that fight atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). In people who have already had a heart attack, the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have proven to dramatically reduce cardiac deaths, especially sudden death, and nonfatal heart attacks. So omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are “cardioprotective.”

The first sign of underlying coronary heart disease in many people is simply sudden death from a heart attack (myocardial infarction) or heart rhythm disturbance. These unfortunate souls had hearts that were ticking time bombs. I have little doubt that a significant number of such deaths can be prevented by adequate intake of cold-water fatty fish. As a substitute for fish, fish oil supplements might be just at beneficial. The American Heart Association also recommends fish twice weekly for the general population, or fish oil supplements if whole fish isn’t feasible. Compared with fish oil capsules, whole fish are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and protein. The richest fish sources of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are albacore (white) tuna, salmon, sar-dines, trout, sea bass, sword-fish, herring, mackerel, anchovy, halibut, and pompano.
    
Cardioprotective omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (mainly ALA) are also provided by plants, such as nuts and seeds, legumes, and vegetables. Rich sources of ALA include walnuts, butternuts, soy-beans, flaxseed, almonds, leeks, purslane, pinto beans, and wheat germ. Purslane is also one of the few plant sources of EPA. Several oils are also very high in ALA: flaxseed, canola, and soybean. Look for them in salad dressings, or try cooking with them.

Macular Degeneration

Omega-3 fatty acid and fish consumption may also be “eye-protective.” Eating fish one to three times per week apparently helps prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in people over 50 in the United States. While AMD has a significant hereditary component, onset and progression of AMD are affected by diet and lifestyle choices. For instance, smoking cigarettes definitely increases your risk of developing AMD. Other foods associated with lower risk of AMD are dark green leafy vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables and fruits: spinach, kale, collard greens, yellow corn, broccoli, sweet potatoes, squash, orange bell peppers, oranges, mangoes, apricots, peaches, honeydew melon, and papaya. Two unifying phytochemicals in this food list are lutein and zeaxanthin, which are also found in red grapes, kiwi fruit, lima beans, green beans, and green bell peppers. Increasing your intake of these foods as part of the Advanced Mediterranean Diet may well help preserve your vision as you age.      
    
Alzheimer’s Dementia
    
Another exciting potential benefit of fish consumption is prevention or delay of Alzheimer’s dementia. Several recent epidemiologic studies have suggested that intake of fish once or twice per week significantly reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s. Types of fish eaten were not specified. No one knows if fish oil capsules are equivalent. For now, I’m sticking with fatty cold-water fish, which I call my “brain food.”
    
Vitamin E supplements may slow the progression of established Alzheimer’s disease; clinical studies show either modest slowing of progression or no benefit. As a way to prevent Alzheimer’s, however, vitamin E supplements have been disappointing. On the other hand, high dietary vitamin E is associated with reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Good sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils (especially sunflower and soybean), sunflower seeds, nuts, shrimp, fruits, and certain vegetables: sweet potatoes, asparagus, beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, okra, green peas, sweet peppers, spinach, and tomatoes. All of these are on your new diet. 

Wine

For centuries, the healthier populations in the Mediterranean region have enjoyed wine in light to moderate amounts, usually with meals. Epidemiologic studies there and in other parts of the world have associated reasonable alcohol consumption with prolonged lifespan, reduced coronary artery disease, diminished Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and possibly fewer strokes. Alcohol tends to increase HDL cholesterol, have an antiplatelet effect, and may reduce C-reactive protein, a marker of arterial inflammation. These effects would tend to reduce cardiovascular disease. Wine taken with meals provides antioxidant phytochemicals (polyphenols, procyanidins) which may protect against atherosclerosis and some cancers. 

What’s a “reasonable” amount of alcohol? An old medical school joke is that a “heavy drinker” is anyone who drinks more than the doctor does. Light to moderate alcohol consumption is generally consi-dered to be one or fewer drinks per day for a woman, two or fewer drinks per day for a man. One drink is 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits (e.g., vodka, whiskey, gin). The optimal health-promoting type of alcohol is unclear. I tend to favor wine, a time-honored component of the Mediterranean diet. Red wine in particular is a rich source of resveratrol, which is thought to be a major contributor to the cardioprotective benefits associated with light to moderate alcohol consumption. Grape juice may be just as good—it’s too soon to tell.
    
I have no intention of overselling the benefits of alcohol. If you are considering habitual alcohol as a food, be aware that the health benefits are still somewhat debatable. Consumption of three or more alcoholic drinks per day is clearly associated with a higher risk of breast cancer in women. Even one or two drinks daily may slightly increase the risk. Folic acid supplementation might mitigate the risk. If you are a woman and breast cancer runs in your family, strongly consider abstinence. Be cautious if there are alcoholics in your family; you may have inherited the predisposition. If you take any medications or have chronic medical conditions, check with your personal physician first. For those drinking above light to mod-erate levels, alcohol is clearly perilous. Higher dosages can cause hypertension, liver disease, heart failure, certain cancers, and other medical problems. And psychosocial problems. And legal problems. And death. Heavy drinkers have higher rates of violent and accidental death. Alcoholism is often fatal. You should not drink alcohol if you:
            ■  have a history of alcohol abuse
                or alcoholism
            ■  have liver or pancreas disease
            ■  are pregnant or trying to become
                pregnant
            ■  may have the need to operate
                dangerous equipment or machinery,
                such as an automobile, while under
                the influence of alcohol
            ■  have a demonstrated inability to
                limit yourself to acceptable
                intake levels
            ■  have personal prohibitions due
                to religious, ethical, or other
                reasons. 
    
Cancer

Do you ever worry about cancer? You should. It’s the second leading cause of death. Over 500,000 people die from cancer each year in the United States. One third of people in the United States will develop cancer. Twenty percent of us will die from cancer. About half the deaths are from cancer of the lung, breast, and colon/rectum. Are you worried yet?

According to the American Cancer Society, one third of all cancer deaths can be attributed to diet and inadequate physical activity. So we have some control over our risk of developing cancer. High consumption of fruits and vegetables seems to protect against cancer of the lung, stomach, colon, rectum, oral cavity, and esophagus, although other studies dispute the protective linkage. Data on other cancers is limited or inconsistent. If you typically eat little or no fruits and vegetables, you can start today to cut your cancer risk by up to one half. Five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day seems to be the protective dose against cancer. Make it a life-long habit. The benefits accrue over time. Fruits and vegetables contain numerous phytochemicals thought to improve or maintain health, such as carotenoids (e.g., lycopene), lignans, phytosterols, sulfides, isothyocyanates, phenolic compounds (includ-ing flavonoids, resveratrol, phytoestrogens, anthocyanins, and tannins), protease inhibitors, capsaicin, vitamins, and minerals. 
   
In addition to cancer prevention properties, fruits and vegetables provide fiber, which is the part of plants resistant to digestion by our enzymes. The other source of fiber is grain products, especially whole grains. Liberal intake of fiber helps prevent constipation, diverticular disease, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, and perhaps colon polyps. Soluble fiber helps control blood sugar levels in diabetics. It also reduces LDL cholesterol levels, thereby reducing risks of coronary heart disease. Whether or not related to fiber, high fruit and vegetable intake may reduce the risks of coronary heart disease and stroke. Legume consumption in particular has been associated with a 10 to 20% lower risk of coronary heart disease, with the effective dose being around four servings per week. 

Fiber and Whole Grains

Processed, refined grain products have much less fiber than do whole grains. For instance, white all-purpose enriched flour has only about one fourth the fiber of whole wheat flour. The milling process removes the bran, germ, and husk (chaff), leaving only the endosperm as the refined product, flour. Endosperm is mostly starch and 10–15% protein. Many nutrients are lost during processing. The germ is particularly rich in vitamins (especially B vitamins), polyunsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, trace minerals, and phytochemicals. Phytochemicals protect us against certain chronic diseases. Bran is high in fiber and nutrients: B vitamins, iron, magnesium, copper, and zinc, to name a few. Enriched grain products are refined grains that have had some, but certainly not all, nutrients added back, typically iron, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, and folate. Why not just eat the whole grain? Whole grain products retain nearly all the nutrients found in the original grain. Hence, they are more nutritious than refined and enriched grain products.
    
Liberal intake of high-fiber whole grain foods, as contrasted with refined grains, is linked to lower risk of death and lower incidence of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus. For existing diabetics, whole grain consumption can help im-prove blood sugar levels. Three servings of whole grains per day cut the risk of coronary heart disease by about 25 percent compared with those who rarely eat whole grains. Regular consumption of whole grains may also substantially reduce the risk of sev-eral forms of cancer.

Average adult fiber intake in the United States is 12 to 15 grams daily. Expert nutrition panels and the American Heart Association recommend 25 to 30 grams daily from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet likely spring from synergy among multiple Mediteranean diet components, rather than from a single food group or one or a few food items. 

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Mediterranean Diet Ranks No.2 Overall

US News and World Report a couple months ago ranked 20 popular diets for weight loss, overall healthfulness,  and diabetes and heart disease management.  Overall best diet was awarded to the DASH diet. Mediterranean came in No.2. 

The Mayo Clinic has free info on the DASH diet.  Here’s my definition of the Mediterranean diet.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Research Round-Up

 

I have a stack of scientific articles I’ve been meaning to review in depth and blog about.  But I have to finally admit I don’t have the time.  Here they are.  Click through for details.

  1. Long-term calorie restriction in humans appears highly effective in reducing atherosclerosis risk factors (lab tests) and actual carotid artery atherosclerosis. Only 18 study subjects, however.
  2. A very-low-carbohydrate diet improved memory in older adults with mild cognitive impairment over six weeks.  Twenty-three subjects were randomized to either high-carb or very-low-carbohydrate diet.  The low-carbers improved verbal memory performance, lost weight, reduced fasting blood sugar and fasting insulin levels.  Ketone levels were positively correlated with memory performance.
  3. A high-fat diet impairs cognitive function and heart energy metabolism in young men.  Sixteen test subjects.  Crossover study design with a five-day high-fat diet deriving 75% of energy from fat, compared to a low-fat diet deriving 23% of energy from fat.  High-fat diet led to impaired attention, speed, and mood.  I’m sure low-carb bloggers have been all over this.  At first blush, it appears they were testing during “induction flu” phase of very-low-carb eating, between days 2 to 7 of a new ketogenic diet.  It takes several weeks to adapt metabolism to running almost entirely on fat rather than standard carbohydrates.  Suspect results would have been different if given time to adapt.
  4. Weight-loss with the laparoscopic gastric banding procedure has poor long-term outcome, according to Belgian surgeons reporting on 82 patients.  Four in 10 patients had major complications.  Nearly half of the 82 patients needed to have the bands removed, and six of every 10 required some kind of re-operation.
  5. Trust me, you DON’T want age-related macular degeneration.  Women, reduce your risk of ARMD with a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, avoidance of smoking,  and by eating abundant plant foods (vegetables [including orange and dark leafy green ones], fruits, and whole grains) and limit foods high in fat, refined starches, sugar, alcohol, and oils.  At least according to these researchers. 
  6. Leafy green vegetables and olive oil are linked to reduced heart disease (CHD) in Italian women.  Fruit consumption had no effect.  This is from a subset of the huge EPIC study, following 30,000 women over almost eight years.
  7. The Mediterranean diet protects against metabolic syndrome, reducing risk by about a third according to a huge meta-analysis from Greek and Italian investigators.  It works best in Mediterranean countries. 
  8. The Mediterranean diet was linked to slower rates of cognitive decline in Chicago residents over the course of almost eight years.  The comparison diet was the Healthy Eating Index-2005.  Of the 3,800 participants, about two-thirds were black.  A Manhattan population showed lower risk of dementia when eating Mediterranean-style.

There ya’ go.  This is better than letting the articles just sit in my briefcase for months on end, eventually to be thrown out.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Spanish Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet Cures Metabolic Syndrome

The very-low-carb Spanish Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet cures metabolic syndrome, according to investigators at the University of Córdoba in Spain. 

The metabolic syndrome is a collection of clinical factors that are linked to high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.  Individual components of the syndrome include elevated blood sugar, high trigylcerides, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure,  and abdominal fat accumulation.

Spanish researchers put 26 people with metabolic syndrome on the Spanish Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet for twelve weeks and monitored what happened.  At baseline, average age was 41 and average body mass index was 36.6.  Investigators didn’t say how many diabetics or prediabetics were included.  No participant was taking medication.

What’s the Spanish Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet?

Calories are unlimited, but dieters are encouraged to keep carbohydrate  consumption under 30 grams day.  They eat fish, lean meat, eggs, chicken, cheese, green vegetables and salad, at least 30 ml (2 tbsp) daily of virgin olive oil,  and 200-400 ml of red wine daily ( a cup or 8 fluid ounces  equals 240 ml).  On at least four days of the week, the primary protein food is fish.  On those four days, you don’t eat meat, chicken, eggs, or cheese.  On up to three days a week, you could eat non-fish protein foods but no fish on those days. 

How’s this different from my Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet?  The major differences are that mine includes one ounce (28 g) of nuts daily, less fish overall, and you can mix fish and non-fish protein foods every day.

Regular exercisers were excluded from participation, and my sense is that exercise during the diet trial was discouraged. 

What Were the Results?

Metabolic syndrome resolved in all participants.

Three of the original 26 participants were dropped from analysis because they weren’t compliant with the diet.  Another one was lost to follow-up.  Final analysis was based on the 22 who completed the study.

Eight of the 22 participants had adverse effects.  These were considered slight and mostly appeared and  disappeared during the first week.  Effects included weakness, headache, constipation, “sickness”, diarrhea, and insomnia. 

Average weight dropped from 106 kg (233 lb) to 92 kg (202 lb).

Body mass index fell from 36.6 to 32.

Average fasting blood sugar fell from 119 mg/dl (6.6 mmol/l) to 92 mg/dl (5.1 mmol/l).

Triglycerides fell from 225 mg/dl to 110 mg/dl.

Average systolic blood pressure fell from 142 mmHg to 124.

Average diastolic blood pressure fell from 89 to 76.

So What?

A majority of people labeled with metabolic sydrome continue in metabolic sydrome for years.  That’s because they don’t do anything effective to counteract it.  These researchers show that it can be cured in 12 weeks, at least temporarily, with the Spanish Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet.

ResearchBlogging.orgVery-low-carb diets are especially good at lowering trigylcerides, lowering blood sugar, and raising HDL cholesterol.  Overweight dieters tend to lose more weight, and more quickly, than on other diets.  Very-low-carb diets, therefore, should be particularly effective as an approach to metabolic syndrome.  It’s quite possible that other very-low-carb diets, such as Atkins Induction Phase, would have performed just as well as the Spanish Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet.  In fact, most effective reduced-calorie weight-loss diets would tend to improve metabolic syndrome, even curing some cases, regardless of carb content

Most physicians recommend that people with metabolic syndrome either start or intensify an exercise program.  The program at hand worked without exercise.  I recommend regular exercise for postponing death and other reasons.

Will the dieters of this study still be cured of metabolic syndrome a year later?  Unlikely.  Most will go back to their old ways of eating, regaining the weight, and moving their blood sugars, triglycerides, and HDL cholesterols in the wrong direction.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference: Pérez-Guisado J, & Muñoz-Serrano A (2011). A Pilot Study of the Spanish Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet: An Effective Therapy for the Metabolic Syndrome. Journal of medicinal food PMID: 21612461

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