The Mediterranean diet helps even if you are taking statins and, along with other benefits, might help avoid the need for statins altogether.
@CLEHeartLab: Mediterranean Diet vs. Statins to Prevent #HeartAttack and #Stroke?
Q. How does the Mediterranean diet stack up against statins in preventing heart attacks and strokes?
A. Both the Mediterranean diet and statins can be effective in helping to lower the risk of potentially fatal complications of heart disease. A large and rigorous study published in 2013, for example, found that switching to a Mediterranean diet prevented about 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease in people at high risk. Statin therapy, by comparison, resulted in a 44 percent reduction in these kinds of problems, a 2009 study found.
The optimal choice, however, at least for those at high risk of cardiovascular disease, may be a combination of both diet and statins. For those at lower risk, lifestyle measures like the Mediterranean diet — high in olive oil, nuts, cereals, fruits and vegetables; with fish, poultry and wine (with meals) in moderation; and low in dairy, sweets and red and processed meats — may be sufficient.
“I don’t view these things as either-or,” said Dr. Meir Stampfer, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “My advice is to start with the Mediterranean diet because it’s good for you in multiple ways — lowering risk of cognitive decline, reduction in some cancers, lower risk of diabetes — that go beyond what statins do. So, that’s a great starting point.”
If cholesterol numbers remain high despite a heart-healthy diet, statins or other medical treatments can be added, he said.
One of the most common pitfalls among individuals on statins is thinking they’re off the hook for worrying about diet and exercise. “That’s a colossal mistake,” Dr. Stampfer said. “Quantitatively, you get more mileage from optimal exercise and diet than statins, so it’s not one or the other: Everybody needs the diet and exercise, and some people, despite that, will still need statins. It’s not a failure; it’s not a character flaw — if you need it, you need it.”
The bottom line is that the Mediterranean diet helps even if you are taking statins and, along with other potential benefits, might help avoid the need for statins altogether.
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