The Mediterranean diet reduces by 30% the heart attack and stroke risk

The Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil or nuts, is able to reduce by 30% the risk of myocardial infarction, stroke or cardiovascular death, according to the results obtained by Spanish investigators after nearly ten years of research. The study, published today in The New England Journal of Medicine, represents the successful culmination of PREDIMED, a project that started in 2003 with funding from the Carlos III Health Institute (ISCIII), a institution from the Ministry of Research, Development and Innovation of the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitividad. The study has received a total funding close to eight million euros, of which seven have been provided by the ISCIII.

The Secretary of State for Research, Development and Innovation, Carmen Vela, presided in Madrid the presentation of the results, that were explained by Dr. Ramon Estruch, leader of the group that has coordinated PREDIMED from Hospital Clínic - IDIBAPS of Barcelona and the University of Barcelona. Simultaneously, the head of the rest of the groups, Dr. Miguel Angel Martinez-Gonzalez, from the University of Navarra, has unveiled the same results at the International Congress of Nutrition being held these days in Loma Linda, California.

In her speech, Carmen Vela congratulated the Spanish research teams who have made the study and highlighted the social, economic and scientific impact that this may have in the future. "It means invaluable knowledge for national health systems, as well as being advantageous for certain economic sectors and society as a whole," she added. Vela recalled that the Strategic Health Action managed by the ISCIII sums about 550 million euros.

Dr. Ramon Estruch noted that the study "has created a world-wide known brand. Not only is it the largest clinical trial ever made in our country, but it has created a database that will be an essential tool for nutrition research in Spain for at least the next twenty years. Its relevance has crossed borders and has attracted considerable interest around the world."


The study is the largest randomized clinical trial conducted in Spain and one of the largest in the world. Led by ISCIII, it has been funded through two initiatives of public research: the CIBER of Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition (CIBERobn) and a network with the name of the study. In total, the Spanish government invested over 6.8 million euros.

In addition to this grant by the ISCIII, PREDIMED has also received financial support from the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares, Fundación Mapfre 2010, Consejería de Salud de la Junta de Andalucía, departamento de Salud Pública del Departament de Salut de Catalunya, Generalitat Valenciana and Gobierno de Navarra..

PREDIMED stands for research "Effects of the Mediterranean diet on the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease", in Spanish. The work has studied a long-term nutritional intervention with Mediterranean diet in order to assess its effectiveness in primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.

To do this, it was necessary to develop a large randomized clinical trial of dietary intervention in people at high cardiovascular risk. The main aim was to 'determine whether the Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil or nuts prevents - compared with a diet low in fats - the onset of cardiovascular disease: cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction and / or stroke. The main conclusion was that the Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil or nuts, is able to reduce by 30% the risk of myocardial infarction, stroke or cardiovascular death.

To support this conclusion, for ten years 19 scientific groups in Andalusia, the Balearic Islands, Catalonia, Navarra, Basque Country and Valencia collected over 20 million indicators from 7447 asymptomatic people at high cardiovascular risk. The age of participants was comprised between 55 and 80 years and the mean follow-up was 5 years, with quarterly individual or group counseling sessions.

Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in the world in the XXI century. Occidental countries keep having very high cardiovascular mortality rates, however, in Mediterranean countries including Spain incidence of coronary disease is surprisingly low.

The importance of the Mediterranean Diet is recognized worldwide for first-order institutions. Thus, UNESCO in 2010 named it "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity".


Ramón Estruch, M.D., Ph.D., Emilio Ros, M.D., Ph.D., Jordi Salas-Salvadó, M.D., Ph.D., Maria-Isabel Covas, D.Pharm., Ph.D., Dolores Corella, D.Pharm., Ph.D., Fernando Arós, M.D., Ph.D., Enrique Gómez-Gracia, M.D., Ph.D., Valentina Ruiz-Gutiérrez, Ph.D., Miquel Fiol, M.D., Ph.D., José Lapetra, M.D., Ph.D., Rosa Maria Lamuela-Raventos, D.Pharm., Ph.D., Lluís Serra-Majem, M.D., Ph.D., Xavier Pintó, M.D., Ph.D., Josep Basora, M.D., Ph.D., Miguel Angel Muñoz, M.D., Ph.D., José V. Sorlí, M.D., Ph.D., José Alfredo Martínez, D.Pharm, M.D., Ph.D., and Miguel Angel Martínez-González, M.D., Ph.D. for the PREDIMED Study Investigators. Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet. The New England Journal of Medicine. February 25, 2013DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1200303