Mar 25, 2019 | Updated: 02:07 PM EDT

Mediterranean diet reverses metabolic syndrome, according to a recent study

Oct 16, 2014 01:45 AM EDT

Mediterranean diet sample

Got an unsightly belly fat or a large waistline? Do you have an inactive lifestyle to the point of being sedentary? Do you have a family history of type 2 Diabetes, hypertension, or early heart diseases, and are experiencing early signs of these diseases?

If you have one or two of these, then you may just be an ideal candidate for developing metabolic syndrome.

The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) defines Metabolic Syndrome as a term for a group of risk factors that raises one's risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke.

There are five metabolic risk factors listed by the NHLBI that could lead to having metabolic syndrome. But to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, one must have at least three of these risk factors:

  - Large waistline, particularly in the stomach area

 - High triglyceride level, or being on medicine to treat high triglycerides

 - Low HDL or good cholesterol level

 - High blood pressure, or being on medicine to treat high blood pressure

 - High fasting blood sugar, or being on medication to treat high sugar level

In general, a person who has metabolic syndrome is twice as likely to develop heart disease and five times as likely to develop diabetes as someone who doesn't have metabolic syndrome.

Should you be running to your doctor now to have yourself checked for metabolic syndrome? Well, it is best that you have regular check-ups with your doctor to give you the best diagnosis of any possible condition that you may have.

At the same time, you could also go on a healthy diet, particularly those that lower the odds of developing cardiovascular diseases, or one that could reverse metabolic syndrome, and reduce the chances of suffering from heart disease.

A recent study by a research team led by Dr. Jordi Salas-Salvado, professor of nutrition at the Universitat Rovira I Virgili and Hospital Universitari de Sant Joan de Reus, Spain found out that Mediterranean diet-- a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, fish and olive oil, and reduced intake of red meat-- may help reverse metabolic syndrome.

According to the study which was published on Canadian Medical Association Journal, Mediterranean diet has been shown to be beneficial for people with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and, of course, metabolic syndrome.

The research involved around 5,800 participants with ages ranging 55 to 80 for heart disease who are part of PREDIMED trial - an ongoing study that aims to assess the effects of a Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular diseases. They were divided into three groups: one with Mediterranean diet along with extra virgin oil; the second group had a Mediterranean diet with added nuts; and the third group with a low-fat diet. The participants went on with their respective diets for an average of 4.8 years.

Resutls of the study suggested that those on the Mediterranean diet with extra olive oil were 35 percent more likely than those on the low-fat diet to reverse the condition, and those on the Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts were 28 percent more likely to reverse metabolic syndrome.

Maine News Online reported that the study found out the Mediterranean diets reduced the participants' obesity and blood sugar levels during the study period. At the start of the study, 64% of the participants had metabolic syndrome and after following the diet, more than a quarter or 28.2 per cent did not suffer from the symptoms of the condition.

Those who ate the Mediterranean diet also had a decrease in belly fat, which is known to increase heart disease risk, according to the study.

Also, the study revealed that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of olive oil, nuts, fruits and vegetables of the Mediterranean diet could be responsible for reducing the risk of type-2-diabetes.

"Mediterranean diets supplemented with olive oil or nuts were not associated with a reduced incidence of metabolic syndrome compared with a low-fat diet; however, both diets were associated with a significant rate of reversion of metabolic syndrome," the researchers said.

According to, approximately 32 per cent of the U.S. population have metabolic syndrome, and about 85 per cent of those with type 2 diabetes have metabolic syndrome. Within the US, Mexican Americans have the highest prevalence of metabolic syndrome.

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