Mediterranean Diet Reverses Metabolic Syndrome

Mediterranean diet plate

A yummy Mediterranean diet salad

Metabolic Syndrome is the name for a set of health conditions that affect as many as one in four adults. The condition is linked with the biggest threats to health today, namely Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

When a person has Metabolic Syndrome they may have high blood pressure, high levels of triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol), excess body fat (usually measured by BMI or waist circumference) and high blood glucose levels (blood sugar).

Health scientists the world over have been studying the relationship between metabolic syndrome and diet for decades and the latest piece of research has concluded that following a Mediterranean style diet can help to reverse the condition.

The study, published in CMAJ on October 14, looked at more than 5,800 men and women aged between 55 and 80 years who were showing signs of heart disease; 64% of th study group already has metabolic syndrome.

Three diets tested over five years

The study compared three diets:

  1. Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil
  2. Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts
  3. Low-fat diet as the control

In the past doctors have recommended a low fat diet to help reduce metabolic syndrome but studies published last year showed that a low fat diet does not actually improve health.

The subjects of the study followed their diets for five years, making this one of the longest studies of its kind.

Stomach Fat Reduced

After five years it was found that those who ate a Mediterranean diet  saw a significant decrease in central obesity and 28% of those who were diagnosed with metabolic syndrome no longer showed any signs of it. This agrees with results of a cohort Spanish Study from 2010 by Juan-José Beunza.

This latest research is not the first of its kind. In fact we reported on a similar study in our article Central Obesity, Diet and Metabolic Syndrome in 2011.

Maria Luz Fernandez said in 2011 that “Adherence to the Mediterranean diet (high intake of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, olive oil, fish, low-fat dairy products, and moderate wine consumption) has been associated with lower prevalence of MetS”.

The latest study concluded that “an energy-unrestricted Mediterranean diet may be useful in reducing the risks of central obesity and hyperglycemia in people at high risk of cardiovascular disease.”

It is probably time that MotleyHealth took a closer look at the Mediterranean diet and incorporated this into our own health and fitness plans.


Mediterranean diets and metabolic syndrome status in the PREDIMED randomized trial” by Nancy Babio and others, CMAJ October 14, 2014 First published October 14, 2014, doi: 10.1503/cmaj.140764

Metabolic Syndrome and the Components of the Mediterranean Diet” by Maria Luz Fernandez. Published in Functional Foods in Health and Disease, 2011, 2:25-37. An Open Access paper.

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