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Mediterranean Diet May Lower Peripheral Artery Disease Risk

<p>Eating a Mediterranean diet rich in extra-virgin olive oil and nuts may lower the risk of peripheral artery disease (PAD), according to new research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.</p>

CHICAGOAs Mediterranean diets continue to influence flavor trends across the United States, new research from The Journal of the American Medical Association shows diets supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and nuts may lower the risk of peripheral artery disease (PAD).

Lead researcher Miguel Ruiz-Canela, Ph.D., and his colleagues at the University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, assessed the association of Mediterranean diets with the occurrence of symptomatic PAD in a randomized trial conducted from October 2003 and December 2010.

Participants included men ages 55 to 80 years and women ages 60 to 80 years without clinical PAD or baseline cardiovascular disease, but with type 2 diabetes mellitus or at least three cardiovascular risk factors. Participants were randomized into one of three groups: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts, or counseling on a low-fat diet (control group). All participants received a comprehensive dietary educational program on a quarterly basis.

The trial included 7,477 participants with an average age of 67 years, and 58% of whom were women. There were 89 confirmed new cases of clinical PAD after a median (midpoint) follow-up of 4.8 years. Both Mediterranean diet interventions were associated with a lower risk of PAD compared with the control group.

To our knowledge, this is the first randomized primary prevention trial to suggest an association between a dietary intervention and [reduction in] PAD," researchers wrote. "These results are consistent with previous observational studies and relevant from a public health perspective."

Previous research also shows diets rich in olive oil, nuts, seafood and produce offer health benefits ranging from improved cognitive function to a reduced risk of diabetes.

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