From Orlando, Fla., at a meeting of the American Heart Association
A diet rich in olive oil, fresh fruits, and vegetables–and that includes little red meat–seems to suppress a host of proteins implicated in heart disease.
Researchers in Greece used questionnaires to collect data on eating habits of 2,282 people during 2001 and 2002. The information enabled the scientists to generate a score for each person that reflected how closely he or she followed the so-called Mediterranean diet, which many studies have correlated with a reduced risk of heart disease (SN: 2/20/99, p. 116).
Blood samples taken from each participant at the end of the 2 years revealed that those people adhering closely to the Mediterranean diet were likely to have lower concentrations of C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha than were people who ate other foods regularly. All these compounds are inflammatory proteins linked to increased risk of heart disease, says Demosthenes B. Panageotakos of the University of Athens, in Glyfada, who presented the findings.
People sticking to the diet also averaged lower blood concentrations of fibrinogen, a protein that abets clotting; white blood cells, a sign of inflammation; and homocysteine, an amino acid implicated in heart disease.
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