High adherence to a Mediterranean diet appears to slow the progression of carotid plaque (fat deposition in the carotid arteries), a PREDIMED substudy suggests.
Investigators also found attenuation of plaque progression in the Mediterranean diet arm of the study that included supplementation with nuts and no such change in the other intervention arm, which included supplemental extra virgin olive oil.
This study was presented at the European Atherosclerosis Society 2013 Congress .
PREDIMED was a large trial that randomized 7447 patients at high cardiovascular (CV) risk (but no CV disease) to a control diet (including advice to reduce dietary fat) or Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) supplemented with extra virgin olive oil or mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts).
After 4.8 years, the risk of major CV events (MI, stroke, death from CV causes) was reduced by 30% in the Mediterranean groups combined, compared with the control diet. The Mediterranean diet group assigned to the extra virgin olive oil supplementation saw a 30% reduction, while those in the nut supplementation group saw a 28% reduction, both compared with the control group.
A total of 61 patients in the control group, 57 in the MedDiet plus supplementary olive-oil group, and 46 in the MedDiet plus nuts group underwent carotid ultrasound imaging at baseline and after a minimum of two years on their assigned diet. They looked at plaque volume and carotid-artery intima thinkness.
They saw a significant reduction in carotid plaque in the MedDiet group. There was delayed progression in the olive-oil group, and slight regression in the nuts group.”
Though the patient volume invloved in the trial was less, it suggested that a mediterranean diet rich in nuts could slow down atherosclerosis and also reduce CV disease and mortality.