The Mediterranean diet is known to have many benefits for our health. Not only does it help us maintain a normal body weight, but it also prevents us from developing type 2 diabetes, it protects us against heart disease and strokes, it maintains us active, it reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and, last but not least, it helps us live longer.
A healthy Mediterranean diet consists of fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans, seafood, fish and olive oil. Very small amounts of dairy and a glass of red wine from time to time are allowed. Heavy dishes that contain loads of processed food or sugar in excess are completely eliminated.
A new study reveals even further benefits to the Mediterranean diet, suggesting that it can help reduce the risk of breast cancer in women.
A team of Spanish researchers, who once looked at the link between the Mediterranean diet and lower risk of suffering from heart attack, now looked at the data of about 4,200 women who were assigned to follow either a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, a Mediterranean diet rich in nuts or a low fat diet.
These women were about 67 years old, on average, and their body mass index was about 30, which made them obese. However, they were not asked to eat less, so there weren’t any significant changes in their body weight at the end of the study.
After almost five years, the researchers noticed that the women who adopted a Mediterranean diet had 68 percent lower chances of breast cancer than the other women involved in the study.
Nevertheless, there is criticism to the research, mainly because only 35 of the women developed breast cancer. 17 of them had been on the low-fat diet, 10 were on the Mediterranean diet with nuts and 8 on the Mediterranean diet with olive oil. This prompted many health experts to say that the numbers are too low and may be attributed to chance.
Moreover, the researchers failed to ask these women if they were getting mammograms, or whether they had a family history of breast cancer, according to Dr. Susan Love, who is a breast surgeon and the author of Dr Susan Love’s Breast Book.
“We’re all looking for a magic bullet, like adding extra virgin olive oil to our diets,” said Marji McCoullough, who is a nutritional epidemiologist with the cancer society. The bigger picture is much more complicated than that. Further research needs to be done to see up to what extent olive oil can reduce the risk of breast cancer.
In spite of the criticism, adding a bit extra oil to our food can’t do us too much harm and it might even make us healthier and prevent certain diseases.
The results of the study were published in the Journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
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