A traditional Mediterranean diet, with an additional daily serving of mixed nuts, appears to be useful in managing some metabolic abnormalities in older adults at high risk for heart disease, according to a report published yesterday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Metabolic syndrome is a pre-diabetes condition, with a cluster of problems that includes abdominal obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood glucose levels—all risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

“Development of the metabolic syndrome depends on a complex interaction between still largely unknown genetic determinants and environmental factors, including dietary patterns,” the authors write. A traditional Mediterranean diet—characterized by a high intake of cereals, vegetables, fruits and olive oil; a moderate intake of fish and alcohol; and a low intake of dairy, meats and sweets—has been associated with a lower risk for metabolic abnormalities. The diet is high in unsaturated fats, and the addition of nuts offers beneficial nutrients like fiber, potassium, calcium and magnesium.

“Traditionally, dietary patterns recommended for health have been low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets, which generally are not palatable,” conclude study author Jordi Salas-Salvadó, MD, PhD, and colleagues from the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Spain. “The results of the present study show that a non-energy–restricted traditional Mediterranean diet enriched with nuts, which is high in fat, high in unsaturated fat and palatable, is a useful tool in managing the metabolic syndrome.”

Editor’s Note: For more health-related articles, please visit our Health Articles Archive and the Health Section of our Organic Blog.