The Mediterranean diet is common in coastal areas of Southern Europe. It focuses heavily on the consumption of olive oil and nuts. Olive oil and nuts contain monounsaturated fatty acids or “good-fats” that help reduce bad fat in the blood stream therefore reducing cholesterol.

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed a significant decrease in the risk of cardiovascular disease in individuals who practiced the Mediterranean diet. The trial looked at about 7,500 individuals who were divided in to three groups. One group was given the Mediterranean diet plus olive oil, another was given the Mediterranean diet plus nuts (walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts), and the last group did not follow the Mediterranean diet; rather followed a typical low-fat diet. The study participants were not limited to amount of food consumption or given any instruction on physical activity.

Half way through the intervention, the researchers noted a significant cardiac improvement among both groups of participants of the Mediterranean diet. Ultimately, the diet showed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 25% to 30%.