Research points to 'Mediterranean' diet to help prevent repeat heart attack
ATLANTA (CNN) -- People who eat a so-called Mediterranean diet are as much as 70 percent less likely to suffer a second heart attack than those who follow a typical "Western" diet, according to new research.
Previous population studies have found a Mediterranean diet -- one rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, grains and beans -- protects against coronary heart disease. The new study is published in Monday's issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
For nearly four years, researchers in France followed more than 600 men and women who had had one heart attack. They found those consuming the Mediterranean diet had a 50 to 70 percent lower risk of a second heart attack than those in a control group.
The control group consumed a typical Western diet, where almost 34 percent of calories came from fat and almost 12 percent from saturated fat. The Mediterranean diet averaged 30 percent of total calories from fat and only 8 percent from saturated fat.
Those following the Mediterranean diet consumed more oleic and alpha-linolenic fatty acids than the control group. Oils high in alpha- linolenic or "omega-3" fatty acids are found in high amounts in plants and certain nuts. The group following the Mediterranean diet also consumed about three more grams of fiber per day than the control group, and it had a slightly higher intake of fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
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