Men who consume a Mediterranean-style diet can enhance their heart function and reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease, according to a new Indiana University study.
In an effort to eliminate the genetic risk factors commonly linked to heart disease, the research team utilized dietary questionnaires and cardiac data from 276 identical or fraternal twins. The patients were graded on how strictly they followed the diet, and each underwent an assessment of their heart rate variability (HRV), which is the variation in the time interval between heart beats.
People with a reduced HRV are known to have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and sudden death, according to the researchers.
Lead author Jun Dai and his colleagues found that men who closely followed the Mediterranean-style diet had a more variable heart rate, compared with those that did not follow the diet, resulting in a 9 percent to 14 percent decreased risk of cardiovascular-related death.
"This means that the autonomic system controlling someone’s heart rate works better in people who eat a diet similar to a Mediterranean diet," concluded Dai.
A Mediterranean diet consists of fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, nuts, cereals and olive oil.