Mediterranean-style Diet Reduces Heart Disease Risk

by VR Sreeraman on  June 16, 2010 at 3:31 PM Diet & Nutrition News
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Eating a Mediterranean-style diet can improve heart function, a new study of twins shows.

The research was conducted with twins to try to eliminate the possible effect of genetics as much as possible.
 Mediterranean-style Diet Reduces Heart Disease Risk
Mediterranean-style Diet Reduces Heart Disease Risk

Using data from the Emory Twins Heart Study, the researchers found that men eating a Mediterranean-style diet had greater heart rate variability (HRV) than those eating a Western-type diet.

Heart rate variability refers to variation in the time interval between heart beats during everyday life - reduced HRV is a risk factor for coronary artery disease and sudden death.

"This means that the autonomic system controlling someone's heart rate works better in people who eat a diet similar to a Mediterranean diet," said Jun Dai, study author and assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Eating a Mediterranean-style diet - one characterized by low saturated fats and high in fish, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, olive oil, cereals and moderate alcohol consumption - reduces a person's heart disease risk. But until now, the way the diet helps reduce the risk of coronary disease remains unknown.

Dai and her colleagues analyzed dietary data obtained from a food frequency questionnaire and cardiac data results from 276 identical and fraternal male twins.

They scored each participant on how closely his food intake correlated with the Mediterranean diet; the higher the score, the greater the similarity to a Mediterranean-style diet.

To measure HRV, participants had their heart's electrical activity continuously measured and recorded with a Holter Monitor, a portable, battery operated electrocardiogram device.

The research has been reported in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal.

Source: ANI

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