Emory Report
March 24, 2008
Volume 60, Number 24


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March 24, 2008
Study: Benefit of Mediterranean diet may be in the antioxidants

By Quinn Eastman

People who consume a diet similar to a Mediterranean diet tend to have lower levels of oxidative stress, which can contribute to heart attack and stroke, according to Emory researchers.

“We’ve known about the protective effect of the Mediterranean diet, but this begins to show how antioxidants in the diet may be bringing about that effect,” says study leader Viola Vaccarino, a professor of medicine (cardiology) and epidemiology.

A Mediterranean diet is characterized by large amounts of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fish and poultry and low amounts of red meat.

Vaccarino’s team studied the association between diet and oxidative stress in 297 male twins who are Vietnam-era veterans.

“Our work shows that the effects of diet are independent from genetics and familial factors,” said Emory cardiovascular researcher Jun Dai.

“It means everybody can benefit from a healthy diet, whether you have genetic risk factors for cardiovascular disease or not,” added Dai, who presented the findings at a March 14 American Heart Association conference.