in treating atherosclerosis
The Mediterranean diet is more effective than a low-fat diet in reducing the progression of atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease, according to new data from the Coronary Diet Intervention With Olive Oil and Cardiovascular Prevention (CORDIOPREV) study.
The effectiveness of the Mediterranean diet in preventing coronary artery disease is well documented. A new study published in Stroke in August 2021 shows that diet can also treat and slow the progression of the disease. 
"The current study is, to our knowledge, the first to establish an effective dietary strategy for secondary cardiovascular prevention and reaffirms the fact that the Mediterranean diet, rich in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), could prevent the progression of atherosclerosis." study team says.
The data also show that patients with a higher atherosclerotic burden may benefit most from the Mediterranean diet.
During the CORDIOPREV study, half of the patients followed a Mediterranean diet rich in extra virgin olive oil, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, and nuts. The other half ate a diet low in fat and high in complex carbohydrates.
The Mediterranean diet significantly reduced arterial thickness at both 5 and 7 years. In contrast, the low-fat diet resulted in no change in carotid artery thickness.
The Mediterranean diet also resulted in greater decreases in peak height of arterial plaques compared to the low-fat diet throughout follow-up.
Previous data from CORDIOPREV showed that blood flow in patients with coronary artery disease, even type 2 diabetes, was improved after 1 year on the Mediterranean diet compared to the low-fat diet.
The Mediterranean diet may also increase heart-healthy high-density cholesterol levels. The anti-inflammatory effects of the Mediterranean diet could be another factor that helps reduce the progression of atherosclerosis, according to the researchers.
That's good news. Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of death in western countries. Following the Mediterranean diet with extra virgin olive oil has been shown to prevent and treat the disease. Best of all, the Mediterranean Diet has been called the "easiest diet to follow" by US News and World Report . These and other studies show that difficult-to-follow low-fat diets are not necessary to improve cardiovascular health.
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