MONDAY, June 18, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Individuals at high cardiovascular risk who are assigned to a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts have reduced incidence of major cardiovascular events compared with those assigned to a reduced-fat diet, according to a study published online June 13 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Ramón Estruch, M.D., Ph.D., from the Instituto de Salud Carlos III in Madrid, and colleagues randomized 7,447 participants aged 55 to 80 years who were at high cardiovascular risk to one of three diets: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts, or a control diet featuring advice to reduce dietary fat. On the basis of a prespecified interim analysis, the trial was stopped after a median follow-up of 4.8 years.

The researchers found that a primary end point (myocardial infarction, stroke, or death from cardiovascular causes) occurred in 288 participants: 3.8, 3.4, and 4.4 percent of those assigned to a Mediterranean diet with extra-virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet with nuts, and the control group, respectively. The hazard ratios were 0.69 and 0.72 for a Mediterranean diet with extra-virgin olive oil and a Mediterranean diet with nuts compared with the control diet in the adjusted intention-to-treat analysis.

“The incidence of major cardiovascular events was lower among those assigned to a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts than among those assigned to a reduced-fat diet,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies and to the nut industry.

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