Mediterranean Diet Lowers Death Risk for Heart Patients


New research indicates that the Mediterranean Diet reduces the mortality risk for heart disease patients

more than taking statin medications.


Being that heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, the fact that dietary habits can make such a huge impact is remarkable, though in some ways not surprising.

The Mediterranean diet, characterized by high consumption of vegetables, fruit, olive oil, nuts, seeds, fish and poultry, is well known for its many protective benefits from various diseases such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s and cardiovascular disease.

The major contributors to mortality risk reduction were a higher consumption of vegetables, fish, fruits, nuts and monounsaturated fatty acids — that means olive oil.– Marialaura Bonaccio, Researcher

A new study, however, looked at participants who already suffer cardiovascular disease (heart attacks, strokes, blocked arteries), which is different than many studies that evaluate general populations.

The study, titled ‘Higher adherence to Mediterranean diet is associated with lower risk of overall mortality in subjects with cardiovascular disease: prospective results from the MOLI-SANI study,’ is not yet available for full review.

Giovanni de Gaetano, head of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention at the IRCCS Neuromed Institute in Pozzilli, Italy, presented the abstract of the paper at the ESC Congress in Rome on August 28, according to a press release from the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

In brief, the study was an observational study looking at approximately 1,200 participants out of 25,000 in the EPIC study. Food intake was evaluated via a food frequency questionnaire and the Mediterranean diet score (MDS) was used to evaluate the relationship between MedDiet consumption and total mortality.

Only 208 deaths occurred during the 7.3-year follow-up and the authors conclude that “a 2-point increase in the MDS was associated with a 21 percent reduced risk of death.” This was even greater, 37 percent, when participants had top-category adherence to the MedDiet.

“The major contributors to mortality risk reduction were a higher consumption of vegetables, fish, fruits, nuts and monounsaturated fatty acids — that means olive oil,” said Marialaura Bonaccio, the lead author of the research.

Professor de Gaetano also suggests that the mechanisms are likely related to other factors that have been seen as protective in other diseases: for example, the influence of a MedDiet with olive oil on inflammatory and oxidative stress factors that initiate and promote disease states.

In recent years, statins have been criticized by researchers as being ineffective and many of the studies on statins have not been independent, but funded by pharmaceutical companies. And, like most medications, statins come with adverse side effects.

Although more research will now be needed, Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said for The Telegraph that: “This study suggests that even if you are already receiving medical care, if you add a Mediterranean diet, it will have further benefit.

“Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, even if you have had a heart attack or stroke is really important and continues to benefit you.”

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Prawns, zucchini & cherry tomato salad

From The Southland Times at

Cherry tomatoes add a burst of colour and flavour to all manner of summer dishes.

​Serves 6 as a starter

For the sundried tomato & anchovy aioli
1 clove garlic
4 sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped
3 anchovies
2 egg yolks
150ml sunflower or other neutral oil
50ml-100ml extra virgin olive oil
juice of ½ lemon (optional)

Mash the garlic to a paste with a little sea salt. Put in a food processor or blender with the sundried tomatoes and anchovies and blitz to a paste. Add the egg yolks and blitz to combine then with the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oils, continuing to process until thick and creamy. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and add lemon juice or a little water to thin if necessary.

For the prawns
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 small zucchini, thinly sliced into rounds
pinch of saffron
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
12 banana or tiger prawns
½ cup mint leaves, shredded
½ cup flat-leafed parley leaves, finely chopped
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup dry white wine

Heat the oil in a wide saucepan or frying pan over medium heat, then fry the zucchini (in batches if necessary) until golden. Add the saffron, garlic, prawns and half the herbs and cook for a minute before adding the tomatoes and wine. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the prawns are cooked through and the wine has evaporated. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spoon onto a platter and scatter with the remaining herbs, then serve alongside the aioli.

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The Mediterranean diet helps prevent brain shrinkage and memory loss

From Health at:

Researchers in Scotland examined the brain volume of hundreds of older adults over three years. The investigators found that people who more closely followed the eating habits common in Mediterranean countries — lots of fruits, vegetables, olive oil and beans — retained more brain volume compared to those who did not.

“Research is accumulating to show protective effects of the Mediterranean diet on normal cognitive [mental] decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” said study leader Michelle Luciano.

The new study suggests the possible mechanism is in preserving brain volume, said Luciano, of the University of Edinburgh.

The Mediterranean diet is an eating style that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, olive oil instead of butter, beans and cereal grains, such as wheat and rice. Moderate amounts of fish, dairy and wine are included, while red meat and poultry are limited.

Experts know that with age, the brain shrinks and brain cells are lost. This can affect learning and memory, Luciano said.

“In our study, age had the largest effect on brain volume loss,” Luciano noted. However, “the effect of the Mediterranean diet was half the size of that due to normal aging,” she said. She considers that finding impressive.

Luciano said she found no association from fish or meat intake on preserving brain volume. That suggests it may be other components or the overall Mediterranean diet that provide the benefit.

The combination of foods may protect against factors such as inflammation and vascular disease, which can cause brain shrinkage, she added.

Heather Snyder, director of medical and scientific operations for the Alzheimer’s Association, said the new study “is confirming what we have seen before.” Snyder wasn’t involved in the research.

“This paper really adds to the data,” she said.

However, “these are associations, so we can’t say A causes B,” Snyder added.

Also, the study authors acknowledged that larger studies are needed to confirm the link.

For the study, Luciano’s group collected dietary information from almost 1,000 Scots, about age 70 and free of dementia. More than half had a brain scan at age 73. The scans measured overall volume, gray matter and the thickness of the cortex — the brain’s outer layer.

Three years later, 401 study participants returned for another measurement.

Even after accounting for other factors that might affect brain volume — such as education level, diabetes, high blood pressure or age — better brain measurements were associated with Mediterranean-style eating, the study authors said.

The study was published online Jan. 4 in the journal Neurology.

Among the study’s strengths, Snyder said, is that the participants were fairly alike in that all were residents of Scotland. That means there is likely less variation in factors that could affect brain health, such as access to medical care, she noted.

This research, along with other studies, suggest that overall diet affects thinking and brain health, Snyder added.

The Alzheimer’s Association recommends following the Mediterranean diet or the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, developed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The association’s reasoning is that what’s good for the heart is also good for the brain.

Besides a healthy diet, evidence suggests that regular physical activity, lifelong learning, and managing heart risk factors — such as diabetes and high blood pressure — may also lower the risk of mental decline, said Snyder.

More information

For more about diet and brain health, visit the Alzheimer’s Association.

The real brain food could be fresh veggies and olive oil, study finds

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It is never too late to start eating a Mediterranean. Read more at:


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How About Some Super Healthy Greens on That Pizza Pie?



Pizza with Rapini and Sausage Topping

Makes a 12-inch round pizza

Use a basic pizza dough recipe for the crust or, for a quicker dish, substitute a good store-bought one. If you have a baking stone, all the better. Otherwise, a baking pan will do.


• 1-1/2 pounds pizza dough

• extra-virgin olive oil (LYKOVOUNO)

• 1 bunch rapini

• 2 tablespoons kosher salt

• 6 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

• fresh hot chili pepper such to taste, sliced (optional)

• 1/2 pound sweet Italian pork sausage meat

• cornmeal

• 1 cup semi-soft sheep cheese or semi-aged Asiago, sliced or shredded

To prepare the dough:

Place the dough in a large, lightly oil mixing bowl. Lightly brush the surface with olive oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a draft-free place until doubled, about 1 hour.

To make the pizza:

1. Fill a pot with enough water to cover the greens and bring to a rolling boil.

2. Meanwhile, using a large knife, trim off any discolored tips from the stems. Using a paring knife, peel the stems as you would asparagus legs. Separate the stems from the crowns. Cut the stems into 2-inch pieces, leaving the crowns intact. Wash the greens in abundant cold water; drain.

3. To the boiling water add the kosher salt, followed by the rapini. Cook over medium-high heat until tender, 3 minutes. Drain.

4. In an ample skillet, warm 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the sliced garlic. Sauté until the garlic is golden, about 4 minutes; remove and reserve.

5. Add the drained greens and hot pepper, if using, to the skillet and toss. Cover and warm over low heat, about 3 minutes. Drain again and set aside.

6. In a second skillet, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the crumbled sausage and saute until lightly browned, about 6 minutes.

7. Stretch the dough onto a lightly oiled, cornmeal-dusted pizza pan, baking sheet, or baking stone. Prick the surface. Brush the rim lightly with olive oil and arrange the sauteed rapini, reserved garlic, and sausage on the pie. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, about 30 minutes. In the meanwhile, preheat an oven to 500 degrees F.

8. Slide the pizza onto the middle rack of the oven and bake until the edges are puffy and browned and the dough is cooked through, about 7 minutes. Remove it a minute before it is done to top it with the cheese and return it to the oven. Allow to settle for 5 minutes before cutting.  (Drizzle with more LYKOVOUNO ORGANIC EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL-YUM)

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Christmas Week Give Away!









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