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Risk of Stroke, Heart Disease in Women Lowered by Mediterranean Diet
Date:2/17/2009

BOSTON, Feb. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Women who adhere to a traditional Mediterranean diet -- high in monounsaturated fat, plant proteins, whole grains and fish -- are at a lower risk for stroke and coronary heart disease, according to a study published this week in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

The research, led by Simmons College Nutrition Professor Teresa Fung, found that women whose diets most closely resembled the Mediterranean diet had a 29% reduction in heart disease risk, and a 13% reduction in stroke risk when compared with those women whose diets least resembled it. Diseases of the heart (coronary heart disease) and stroke are two of the top three leading causes of death in the U.S. for women and men.

"These are dramatic results," said Fung. Previous studies have shown an association between the Mediterranean diet and reduced risk of cardiovascular death in men and women. This study is one of the first to look at non-fatal events. "Women whose diets look like the Mediterranean diet are not only less likely to die from heart disease and stroke, but also less likely to have those diseases," she said.

This is the first large-scale study to focus on the non-fatal incidence of heart disease and stroke in women, said Fung. "Women whose diets look like the Mediterranean diet are not only less likely to die from heart disease and stroke, but are less likely to have those diseases," she said.

Foods and beverages common in this diet include monounsaturated fats, vegetables, whole grains, fish, moderate alcohol, and limited red meat, refined grains, and sweets.

During the study's 20 years of follow-up, researchers found 2,391 incidents of coronary heart disease, 1,763 strokes and a combined total of 1,077 fatal heart attacks and strokes.

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SOURCE Simmons College
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