December 08, 2008
Mediterranean Diet Plus Nuts Cuts Metabolic Syndrome

More evidence that vegetables, olive oil, nuts, and other elements of the Mediterranean diet really are good for you:

A traditional Mediterranean diet with an additional daily serving of mixed nuts appears to be useful for managing some metabolic abnormalities in older adults at high risk for heart disease, according to a report in the December 8/22 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Avoid insulin resistant diabetes and some other bad changes in your metabolism by eating this diet.

At the beginning of the study, 61.4 percent of the participants met criteria for the metabolic syndrome. After one year, 409 participants in the Mediterranean diet plus olive oil group, 411 in the Mediterranean diet plus nuts group and 404 in the control group of low-fat diet advice were available for evaluation. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome decreased by 13.7 percent among those in the nut group, 6.7 percent in the olive oil group and 2 percent in the control group.

Participants' weight did not change over the one-year period. However, the number of individuals with large waist circumference, high triglycerides or high blood pressure significantly decreased in the Mediterranean diet plus nuts group compared with the control group. This suggests that components of the diet, principally the nuts, may have beneficial effects on pathophysiological characteristics of metabolic syndrome, such as oxygen-related cell damage, resistance to the effects of insulin or chronic inflammation. The Mediterranean diet is high in unsaturated fatty acids; in addition, nuts also contain beneficial nutrients such as fiber, arginine, potassium, calcium and magnesium.

Here is the Mediterranean Diet:

  • high consumption of fruits, vegetables, bread and other cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds
  • olive oil is an important monounsaturated fat source
  • dairy products, fish and poultry are consumed in low to moderate amounts, and little red meat is eaten
  • eggs are consumed zero to four times a week
  • wine is consumed in low to moderate amounts

Anybody follow this diet?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 December 08 11:50 PM  Aging Diet Studies

auntulna said at December 9, 2008 7:20 AM:

Don't forget, one of the best aspects of the Mediterranean diet is living in the Mediterranean. Seriously, living there will likely yield higher levels of Vitamin D, which we are learning is good for everything.

Penny said at December 9, 2008 9:14 AM:

My daughter (age 23) has been following it for most of her life, except that she eats no meat or fish. Due to allergies she started solid food on a diet of fruit, veggies, grains, and legumes and has been eating that ever since. She hates dairy and meat.

She is planning on living a very long time - people on both sides of the family die of extreme old age already, and with modern medicine and a good diet she hopes to live well for well over a hundred years.

Jake said at December 9, 2008 10:23 AM:

The reason nuts help in this diet is that carbs are being replaced with fats. The same effect would have been seen if they had added bacon. The healthiest and most effective diet is a low-carb high fat.

Delicious Pundit said at December 9, 2008 11:55 AM:

The PB&J people will be pleased to hear this.

Steve Parker, M.D. said at December 9, 2008 8:32 PM:

An interesting tidbit about the study is that the people eating Mediterranean w/nuts exhibited 70% greater chance of reversing their metabolic syndrome (compared to controls), but that group did NOT show any improvement in the number of new cases of metabolic syndrome developing over the year of the study. This puzzles me.

For anyone interested, I blogged about this study at my healthy lifestyle blog:

To answer your question, I do follow the Mediterranean diet. I'm convinced it is the healthiest diet out there, based on published scientific journal articles, not just opinion.


Robert M. said at December 10, 2008 10:22 AM:

Since metabolic syndrome is an insulin disease, yes, removing sugar and starch from the diet will fix it.

poul said at December 11, 2008 12:04 PM:

what in the world is "Mediterranean" diet? italian, spanish, greek, turk, lebanese, egyptian, moroccan, tunician? they are all very different.

stupid fat ignorant americans.

Morgan said at December 11, 2008 12:11 PM:

Good stuff Poul, very helpful. Did you catch the list of elements that they referred to as the 'Mediterranean Diet'? It's a list with a name to help people remember, nowhere does it say 'Tunisians eat this:'. In any case, yours was an invaluable contribution. Come back soon.

Doc said at December 11, 2008 12:24 PM:

Oh, come on, Morgan. Cut Poul some slack - after all, he's just some rude eurotrash poser.

Emerson said at December 11, 2008 1:01 PM:

Check out Poul's picture. He's gaunt as a zombie and sucking on a smoke like it's his breathing tank. He's why us fat stupid ignorant Americans think that without a generous welfare state to live in, posers like Poul would be homeless.

Bill said at December 11, 2008 2:10 PM:

I follow it. My wife is Turkish and this is largely the way Turks and Greeks cook (their cuisines have a lot more in common than either care to acknowledge.) It's wonderful.

I will say, however, that the American Heart Org. is pulling our legs to an extent. There's a lot more meat consumption than they let on. In parts of Turkey lamb is central to dishes while beef isn't common. In others it's beef and not lamb. The notion of a low-protein diet in the Mediterranean is false. To be sure, they don't consume Homer-Simpsonesque portions of meat but they aren't vegetarians.

Idler said at December 11, 2008 2:49 PM:

I'm holding out for medical science to discover the benefits of the Argentine diet.

YoMaMa said at December 11, 2008 4:16 PM:

Check out where friend Poul is based... why, the Smoking Skeletor is posing as eurotrash, calling us "fat ugly Americans"... but looks like he's a skinny ugly american his own self! I dunno, I ain't feeling the love, Poul...

Randall Parker said at December 11, 2008 6:28 PM:


The Mediterranean Diet is fading out in the Mediterranean countries as the population adopts a more American diet. See the NYTimes article Fast Food Hits Mediterranean; a Diet Succumbs".

How tragic.

EscutcheonBlot said at December 12, 2008 12:03 AM:

I'm unconvinced by the Mediterranean Diet. Every time I've worked or otherwise spent a significant amount of time in a Med country, I've lost muscle mass. I've not gained weight, true (except for one, one-month period in Palermo...mamma mia!) and I've not decreased workout times(3-4 times a week at the gym) but I've noticed a drop in strength and rise in wobbly-ness every time I've gone off the Hunter-Gatherer diet of low carbs, high veggies and high meat. I also sleep more poorly.

It's good for the skin, though. And cheaper.

Elite Health said at July 16, 2009 11:06 PM:

Quite an agreeable post. Eating habits can matter to the health, especially to the heart. Isnít it natural for us to believe we are healthy and not suffering from any disease? I had a similar thought process until my physician asked me to get a heart scan done after he found that my basic cardiograms were not perfect. I discovered that there were calcium deposits in my coronary arteries and I was at a serious risk of a heart attack. I was shocked and went ahead with the Cardiologist's suggestion of an advanced diagnostic scan. Though itís always tough to undergo such experiences, I was not at any kind of discomfort at the Elite Health( advanced heart scan facility. I am not an expert in medical appliance and machines but could feel that the equipment was world-class and I was in safe hands. That feeling is really very important for me and thatís how it actually went on. The facilities for Full Body Scan were as good as they can get.

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