Does the Mediterranean Diet Reduce the Risk of Heart Attack
So far, the evidence suggests that the answer to this question is “Yes.” In a large observational study of more than 22,000 Greek adults, those adhering to a Mediterranean diet had a reduced risk of dying from heart disease. The same findings hold in the United States, where a 400,000-person study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and AARP recorded similar cardiac benefits in those following a Mediterranean diet.
To date, we have more data supporting the Mediterranean diet than we have for any other diet when it comes to heart health, although critics are correct in their claim that we do not yet have iron-clad proof that this diet reduces the risks of heart attack and stroke. In fact, no existing study of diet and heart health meets our contemporary gold standard for medical evidence: a large randomized controlled clinical trial. In such a trial, people would be split into groups and randomly assigned to one diet or another (e.g., Mediterranean vs. Atkins). Then, over the course of several years, we would determine which diet was more likely to protect the heart.
Although we don’t yet have that level of evidence, we feel that there is enough scientific study and observational data to lead us to the conclusion that the Mediterranean diet is the best choice for heart health.