A Mediterranean-style diet could help reduce cardiovascular disease in Asian populations, especially among Asian people living in western countries, according to a recent study in The Lancet.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a major public-health problem for south Asian people, but it is not explained by conventional risk factors such as high blood pressure or increased cholesterol concentrations.
RB Singh from Moradabad, India, and Elliot Berry from Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel, and colleagues, carried out a randomised trial among 1000 patients with a history of health outcomes associated with CAD (including angina, heart attack, and diabetes). Half were allocated to a diet rich in alpha-linolenic acid (eg wholegrains, fruits, vegetables, walnuts and almonds), a key component of the Mediterranean-style diet and highlighted by the American Heart Association (AHA) for its health benefit. The other half (the control group) were given a conventional Asian diet.
The main analysis took place two years after the start of the study. The average daily intake of alpha-linolenic acid was doubled among patients given the enhanced (Indo-Mediterranean) diet; this group also had fewer cardiac events (39 compared with 76) after the two years follow-up. Researchers also reported that sudden cardiac death and the proportion of non-fatal heart attacks was halved among patients given the enhanced diet.
Elliot Berry said: "Our trial in a non-Western population has shown that, over two years, a diet enriched with fruit, vegetables, nuts, wholegrains and mustard or soy bean oil is associated with a pronounced decline in CAD morbidity and mortality, without an increase in non-cardiac deaths, and in the presence of improved metabolic profiles. The long-term benefits may be even more substantial."