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The Boston Globe

Health & wellness


Mediterranean diet vs. low-fat Ornish plan

The Mediterranean diet and the Ornish spectrum reversing heart disease plan both help boost heart health. Which should you choose?

What’s the best diet to keep you healthy through the years or, better yet, reverse health problems caused by decades of poor eating habits? The debate seemed to be settled in February with a landmark study showing that the Mediterranean diet — which includes fat from olive oil, fish, and nuts, and a moderate amount of wine — led to 30 percent fewer heart disease deaths, strokes, and heart attacks than a low-fat diet in people over age 55 who hadn’t yet developed heart disease.

Nutrition researchers who had been extolling the virtues of “heart-healthy” monounsaturated fats and fish oil for decades felt vindicated. But those who had previously demonstrated that very low-fat diets with no vegetable oils or animal fats can help manage diabetes and reverse heart disease weren’t convinced. The control group in the Mediterranean diet study, which was supposed to follow a low-fat diet, didn’t actually adhere to the principles of low-fat eating, they said.

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