New England Journal of Medicine, findings from the landmark Spanish PREDIMED (PREvención con DIeta MEDiterranea) trial, report that a Mediterranean diet including nuts, primarily walnuts, reduced the risk of cardiovascular diseases (myocardial infarction, stroke or cardiovascular death) by 30%.
And it specifically reduced the risk of stroke by 49% when compared to a reference diet consisting of advice on a low-fat diet (American Heart Association guidelines).
As one of the world's largest and longest dietary intervention studies, according to California Walnut Commission, PREDIMED is a multicenter, randomized, primary prevention trial of cardiovascular disease funded by the Spanish Ministry of Health.
These findings are significant considering that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. In addition to being the first and third leading causes of death in America, heart disease and stroke result in serious illness and disability, decreased quality of life, and hundreds of billions of dollars in economic loss every year.
According to lead researcher Dr. Ramon Estruch, "the results of the PREDIMED trial are of utmost importance because they convincingly demonstrate that a high vegetable fat dietary pattern is superior to a low-fat diet for cardiovascular prevention."
The trial included 7,447 individuals (55-80 years old) at high cardiovascular risk who were followed for an average of 4.8 years. Participants were randomized into one of three intervention diets: Low-fat diet (control group), Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil (50 ml per day), or a Mediterranean diet supplemented with 30 g mixed nuts, primarily walnuts, per day (15 g walnuts, 7.5 g almonds and 7.5 g hazelnuts.)
In addition to the benefits of the Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts, the research found that the Mediterranean diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil also reduced the risk of cardiovascular diseases by 30%.