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Can Mediterranean Diet Reverse Heart Disease? Find Out Here

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Amable Aguiluz · Updated Jan 28, 2023

Can Mediterranean Diet Reverse Heart Disease? Find Out Here

With heart problems being the cause of death of otherwise young or healthy individuals, more importance has been placed on lifestyle changes and changes to one’s exercise regimen and diet. For most people, the latter seems to be more impactful and easier to begin. Among the diets that a person can try is the Mediterranean diet. But can Mediterranean diet reverse heart disease?

Diet for a healthy heart

Research and data from as early as the 1960’s comparing the mortality rate of adults in Greece and Italy, who eat Mediterranean cuisine, to the USA and other regions, show that adults in the European countries have a much lower number of deaths caused by heart diseases.

Before looking at the evidence presented by other studies, and answering the question “can Mediterranean diet reverse heart disease?”, we must first understand what the Mediterranean diet is all about.

What is the Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet consists of:

  • Healthy consumption of unprocessed, low-sugar foods
  • These include fruits, legumes, fish
  • There is a focus on non-meat food (red meat is rarely eaten).
  • Base is healthy fats (ex. Virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, fatty fish)
  • Can Mediterranean diet reverse heart disease: Research

    A study conducted by researchers from the University of Córdoba and the Queen Sofia University Hospital aimed to put two healthy diets against each other. The two diets would be studied for their effects on a person’s overall health and heart condition over the span of a year. This study had more than one thousand participants. All participants possessed a heart condition.

    Over the course of the study, with the idea of addressing the issue: “Can Mediterranean diet reverse heart disease?”, fifty percent of the participants were instructed to adhere to a Mediterranean diet.

    This consisted of eating the above-mentioned foods every day, with a daily focus on:

    • Food with virgin olive oil
    • Vegetables
    • Fruits

    Participants also had a weekly serving of:

    The assigned participants were also given the following restrictions:

    • No processed foods
    • No foods containing unhealthy sugar and fats
    • Refrain from regularly consuming red meat

    The opposing diet was a low-fat based diet, which limited all kinds of fat consumption and increased consumption of healthy carbohydrates. The participants were instructed to limit themselves from eating red meat, nuts, pastries and sweets.

    Over the course of the study, in order to help reach an answer to the question: “Can Mediterranean diet reverse heart disease?” Researchers measured the participants’ vasodilation capacity. This refers to the body’s response to lowered oxygen levels and available nutrients, leading to the widening of blood vessels, which helps blood pressure and blood flow.

    Can Mediterranean diet reverse heart disease: Findings

    The study observed that the Mediterranean diet performed better in promoting both the participants’ vasodilation capacity and endothelial function, which refers to the arteries’ flexibility. This helps with vascular relaxation, blood clotting, and other important processes that help keep your heart healthy.

    The study was successful in cementing the fact that the Mediterranean diet can reverse heart disease, or at the very least, help deal with its progression for affected patients.

    The research shows that the diet creates changes in one’s body that helps deal with existing heart problems. It also reduces the chances of suffering a heart attack especially for patients that have already experienced one. Continuously using this diet may help to reverse the effects of whatever heart problems you may have.

    Key takeaway

    The Mediterranean diet may address heart disease.  In addition to the study mentioned, The American Heart Association and other international reports on best diets have recommended the Mediterranean diet time and time again.

    The way a person eats has a big role on his or her overall health. This may be a good reason for people to switch to healthy diets such as the Mediterranean diet.

    Learn more about Special Diets here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


    Written by Amable Aguiluz · Updated Jan 28, 2023

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