Cardiovascular Risks and the Mediterranean Diet

Published Online: Friday, December 14, 2012
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Canadian researchers recently analyzed the association between salty food consumption and the risk of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and stroke in patients following a Mediterranean diet plan.

The study, published in the November 2012 issue of Atherosclerosis, recorded salt consumption of 250 ACS patients, 250 ischemic stroke patients, and 500 control subjects from 2009 to 2010. Salt intake was measured using a food frequency questionnaire and was analyzed based on 3 categories: salt used in cooking, salt added at the table, and salt in processed foods. Subjects were also assessed for their adherence to the Mediterranean diet.

Researchers found that despite the level of adherence to the Mediterranean diet, higher salt use at the table and increased consumption of salty foods was associated with a higher likelihood of having a stroke. Use of salt at the table increased the risk of stroke by 81%. Researchers also found that stroke patients consumed more salt on average than their controls. Although no significant correlation between ACS and salt intake was found, researchers suggest that both ACS and stroke patients monitor their salt intake more closely.

“Simple dietary changes, with emphasis on reducing salt and salty food consumption, along with better adherence to the Mediterranean diet, should be incorporated in public health strategies for the primary prevention of stroke,” the researchers wrote.

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