Search our website Find job opportunies at THI and St. Luke's Find a doctor location and contact information
About UsResearchEducationCommunity Outreach & Heart HealthPatient CareSupport Us
Women's Heart & Vascular Health
Center for Women's Heart & Vascular Health
  Back to previous page


  Read all issues of 
  "Straight Talk" in 
  the archives. 

to Women's Heart Health E-News. Please leave this field empty
Straight Talk from 'Dr. Stephanie' - March 2013

The Mediterranean Diet – Food for Thought 
En español

Stephanie Coulter, MDBy now you know that we are all about healthy lifestyles here and we have been preaching the benefits of food choices like olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables for years. This is the basis for the Mediterranean diet.

A recent study of the Mediterranean diet published in the New England Journal of Medicine made a very big splash in the mainstream news and medical circles alike during March, National Nutrition Month®.

So what's all the hype?

This was a very large study that included more than 7,000 people in Spain, evenly divided and randomly assigned to follow 1 of 3 diets…

  • Mediterranean diet + 4 tbsp daily of extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Mediterranean diet + 1 oz (handful) daily of mixed nuts including walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts or
  • Low-fat diet

The study was to test whether one of these diets was better at preventing a first stroke, heart attack or death from cardiovascular causes in a high risk population

In the medical field we say “primary prevention of a cardiovascular event.”

The study was stopped early when it became clear that the Mediterranean diets were showing a 30% reduction in risk.

Dramatic results like this from a change in diet is staggering. To put this in perspective, aspirin use only yielded a 23% risk reduction when tested almost 30 years ago. And still, we prescribe this every day to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Keep in mind, 30 years ago cholesterol medicines, aspirin and blood pressure lowering medications were not available or routinely used—yet in this study, where the participants were already taking medications well known to lower risk, change in diet was still responsible for almost 40% fewer strokes. The benefit from the change in diet was seen early too.

To me this study reinforces the benefits of a Mediterranean style diet—a diet I encourage my family to embrace. Will we see prescription pads with this diet recommended flying out the doors any time soon? I hope so but YOU can start today.

Until next time!
Stephanie Coulter, MD, Director of the Center for Women's Heart & Vascular Health
Stephanie Coulter, MD

Learn more about nutrition on the Texas Heart Institute Heart Information Center nutrition page.

Do you have a topic that you would like to learn more about from Dr. Stephanie? Send us an email at and your question may be the next Straight Talk topic!

We are saving hearts and trees. The Women's Heart Health E-News is sent via e-mail and posted online. Sign up using the form on this page. 

Visit the Center for Women's Heart & Vascular Health at

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Subscribe to us on YouTube Find Us on Flicikr Follow Us on Pinterest Add us on Google+ Find us on LinkedIn 

Please contact our Webmaster with questions or comments.
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
© Copyright Texas Heart Institute
All rights reserved.