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Mediterranean Diet Cuts Heart Attacks, Strokes and Deaths by 30%

What I love about the report of this study is that all the related researchers have gone to a Mediterranean diet – see the end of this article 🙂 I found this article at the New York Times.

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About 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented in people at high risk if they switch to a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables, and even drink wine with meals, a large and rigorous new study has found.

The findings, published on The New England Journal of Medicine’s Web site on Monday, were based on the first major clinical trial to measure the diet’s effect on heart risks. The magnitude of the diet’s benefits startled experts. The study ended early, after almost five years, because the results were so clear it was considered unethical to continue.

The diet helped those following it even though they did not lose weight and most of them were already taking statins, or blood pressure or diabetes drugs to lower their heart disease risk.

“Really impressive,” said Rachel Johnson, a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association. “And the really important thing — the coolest thing — is that they used very meaningful endpoints. They did not look at risk factors like cholesterol or hypertension or weight. They looked at heart attacks and strokes and death. At the end of the day, that is what really matters.”

Until now, evidence that the Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of heart disease was weak, based mostly on studies showing that people from Mediterranean countries seemed to have lower rates of heart disease — a pattern that could have been attributed to factors other than diet.

And some experts had been skeptical that the effect of diet could be detected, if it existed at all, because so many people are already taking powerful drugs to reduce heart disease risk, while other experts hesitated to recommend the diet to people who already had weight problems, since oils and nuts have a lot of calories.

Heart disease experts said the study was a triumph because it showed that a diet was powerful in reducing heart disease risk, and it did so using the most rigorous methods. Scientists randomly assigned 7,447 people in Spain who were overweight, were smokers, or had diabetes or other risk factors for heart disease to follow the Mediterranean diet or a low-fat one.

Low-fat diets have not been shown in any rigorous way to be helpful, and they are also very hard for patients to maintain — a reality borne out in the new study, said Dr. Steven E. Nissen, chairman of the department of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

“Now along comes this group and does a gigantic study in Spain that says you can eat a nicely balanced diet with fruits and vegetables and olive oil and lower heart disease by 30 percent,” he said. “And you can actually enjoy life.”

The study, by Dr. Ramon Estruch, a professor of medicine at the University of Barcelona, and his colleagues, was long in the planning. The investigators traveled the world, seeking advice on how best to answer the question of whether a diet alone could make a big difference in heart disease risk. They visited the Harvard School of Public Health several times to consult Dr. Frank M. Sacks, a professor of cardiovascular disease prevention there.

In the end, they decided to randomly assign subjects at high risk of heart disease to three groups. One would be given a low-fat diet and counseled on how to follow it. The other two groups would be counseled to follow a Mediterranean diet. At first the Mediterranean dieters got more intense support. They met regularly with dietitians while members of the low-fat group just got an initial visit to train them in how to adhere to the diet, followed by a leaflet each year on the diet. Then the researchers decided to add more intensive counseling for them, too, but they still had difficulty staying with the diet.

One group assigned to a Mediterranean diet was given extra-virgin olive oil each week and was instructed to use at least 4 four tablespoons a day. The other group got a combination of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts and was instructed to eat about an ounce of the mix each day. An ounce of walnuts, for example, is about a quarter cup — a generous handful. The mainstays of the diet consisted of at least three servings a day of fruits and at least two servings of vegetables. Participants were to eat fish at least three times a week and legumes, which include beans, peas and lentils, at least three times a week. They were to eat white meat instead of red, and, for those accustomed to drinking, to have at least seven glasses of wine a week with meals.

They were encouraged to avoid commercially made cookies, cakes and pastries and to limit their consumption of dairy products and processed meats.

To assess compliance with the Mediterranean diet, researchers measured levels of a marker in urine of olive oil consumption — hydroxytyrosol — and a blood marker of nut consumption — alpha-linolenic acid.

The participants stayed with the Mediterranean diet, the investigators reported. But those assigned to a low-fat diet did not lower their fat intake very much. So the study wound up comparing the usual modern diet, with its regular consumption of red meat, sodas and commercial baked goods, with a diet that shunned all that.

Dr. Estruch said he thought the effect of the Mediterranean diet was due to the entire package, not just the olive oil or nuts. He did not expect, though, to see such a big effect so soon. “This is actually really surprising to us,” he said.

The researchers were careful to say in their paper that while the diet clearly reduced heart disease for those at high risk for it, more research was needed to establish its benefits for people at low risk. But Dr. Estruch said he expected it would also help people at both high and low risk, and suggested that the best way to use it for protection would be to start in childhood.

Not everyone is convinced, though. Dr. Caldwell Blakeman Esselstyn Jr., the author of the best seller “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure,” who promotes a vegan diet and does not allow olive oil, dismissed the study.

His views and those of another promoter of a very-low-fat diet, Dr. Dean Ornish, president of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute, have influenced many to try to become vegan. Former President Bill Clinton, interviewed on CNN, said Dr. Esselstyn’s and Dr. Ornish’s writings helped convince him that he could reverse his heart disease in that way.

Dr. Esselstyn said those in the Mediterranean diet study still had heart attacks and strokes. So, he said, all the study showed was that “the Mediterranean diet and the horrible control diet were able to create disease in people who otherwise did not have it.”

Others hailed the study.

“This group is to be congratulated for carrying out a study that is nearly impossible to do well,” said Dr. Robert H. Eckel, a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado and a past president of the American Heart Association.

As for the researchers, they have changed their own diets and are following a Mediterranean one, Dr. Estruch said.

“We have all learned,” he said.

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February 27, 2013 Posted by | Cooking, Diet / Weight Loss, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Food, Health Issues, Living Conditions | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cretan Olive Oil

This response is to a post I wrote October 25th on The Olive Oil scandal, that even when you buy a brand you have thought is reliable, you may not be getting what you paid for. For me, it was particularly horrifying to discover they were adulterating the olive oil with hazlenut oil – I don’t have a severe allergy to hazlenuts, but they make the insides of my ears itch. I avoid hazlenuts!

I keep getting such good responses to the post – and I have a partiality (disclaimer!) to small producers of anything, from olive oil to soap to pecans . . . I love buying from the entrepreneur.

Which is why I have taken this response from the comments page and made it an entry. Thank you, Mr. Sassone, for your thoughtful addition to this subject:

It is indeed a shame that the majority of the olive oil on the American and world market has been adulterated by unscrupulous sellers looking for enormous profits.

That is why I started growing olives on the island of Crete, making extra virgin olive oil-EVOO, and importing it to the US. I personally observe all steps in the process from the time the olive flowers bud on the tree until the EVOO goes in the can. I know it is the cleanest, freshest, highest quality, and most healthful EVOO you can buy at any price.

I also offer all customers copies of test reports from independent laboratories that show the exact quality. Acidity is 0.17%. Total polyphenols are 165ppm. Peroxide value is 6. Nothing can compare at any price.

When people buy EVOOs that are labeled as a mix of oil from several countries, they must take this into account: How clean was process to gather the olives? How clean was the factory that processed the oil? How clean were the trucks that transported the oil to the ship? How clean was the ship that transported the oil? You can see where this is going. At any one or more of dozens of steps in the process, contamination can occur. Some of the olive producing countries do not have food the safety standards like the European Union or US Food and Drug Administration.

My curiosity got the best of me. Recently, I sent samples of 13 EVOOs sold in the US for lab testing to find out just how good or bad they are. I dont have a web site just yet, but will publish the results as a comparison to my oil. So long as I keep complete control of the entire process, I can improve the quality of my oil each year.

My EVOO is now available in the US. It is the finest quality and most healthful EVOO you can buy at any price. Send me and email if interested. kretareserve@cox.net Thanks. Tony

November 6, 2007 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Cooking, Entrepreneur, Health Issues, Hygiene, Shopping, Social Issues, Technical Issue | , , , , | 7 Comments

Olive Oil Scandal Comment

This is a response to my recent post on The Olive Oil Scandal. I am so delighted when I get a thoughtful and enlightening response like this that I want to give it a separate entry so that it won’t be overlooked by all you bloggers with little time and short attention spans. 😉

It certainly is disgusting. One might note that, though, that none of the above named diluters of olive oil come from Spain, by far the largest producer and exporter of the product.

Currently, in fact, the Andalucian regional government (Andalucía, in which I am an olive grower, produces over 30% of the world’s olive oil) is currently funding a project intended to identify through mass spectometry analysis the molecular ‘signature’ of all the different regional denominations of extra virgin olive oil, enabling bottlers to include this information on barcode-like labels on every bottle marketed and against which the contents could be tested. The systematic adoption of this system, when it is completed, would go along way to protect consumers from the present situation, brought on partly through the fraudulent business practices of various Italian and American producers and sellers.

Also, considering that IOOC olive oil standards have no legal force in the United States, effectively permitting virgin or lampante oil to be sold as EVOO (but not diluted with other oils), the seemingly imminent adoption of international nomenclature by the USDA would be a very positive move. It can’t come soon enough.

Charles Butler’s website, The Olive Oil Gazette, is an absolutely fascinating resource, with all kinds of listings for Olive Oil sites and all kinds of olive oil information, including an article on October 21 about the proposal for the DNA “fingerprinting” of olive oil. Here is what it says about author Charles Butler McKay:

The Olive Oil Gazette is published in Cazorla, Jaén, Spain by Charles Butler Mackay, whose Spanish birth certificate states, correctly, that he was born in Toronto, Canada. Aside from editing this news source, he owns and oversees an olive plantation that has been in his family for a century and a half.

Thank you for your input!

Meanwhile, I don’t want to be sceptical. For a very good price, I found the below olive oil at the Sultan Center, and the lable says all the right things:

Cholesterol Free
Less than 1% acidity
Cold Pressed
It even has an expiration date

And it says it is a product of Syria. Because I am sceptical, I bought it because I thought it had a pretty label:

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October 28, 2007 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Cooking, Customer Service, Diet / Weight Loss, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Kuwait, Lies, Living Conditions | , , , | 12 Comments

The Olive Oil Scandal

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A good friend gave me a subscription several years ago to The New Yorker, and at the time I didn’t know how lucky I was. First, I loved the cartoons. A couple magazines later, I got pulled in by some of their excellent travel and political writing. Later, the fiction issues pulled me in and introduced me to authors I had never read before. In no time at all, I was totally addicted.

Now, when The New Yorker arrives, Adventure Man and I fight to see who gets to read it first! Often he wins; he skims it. He knows I will take too long getting through it.

It was the New Yorker magazine who informed me about the great olive oil scandal.

I love olive oil. I only use other oils in baked goods, where the olive oil might give an odd taste, we use olive oil almost exclusively. Or so I thought.

In the August 13 Issue of the New Yorker, Tom Meuller starts like this:

On August 10, 1991, a rusty tanker called the Mazal I docked at the industrial port of Ordu, in Turkey, and pumped twenty-two hundred tons of hazelnut oil into its hold. The ship then embarked on a meandering voyage through the Mediterranean and the North Sea. By September 21st, when the Mazal II reached Barletta, a port in Puglia, in southern Italy, its cargo had become, on the ship’s official documents, Greek olive oil. It slipped through customs, possibly with the connivance of an official, was piped into tanker trucks, and was delivered to the refinery of Riolio, an Italian olive-oil produce based in Barletta. There it was sold—in some instances blended with real olive oil—to Riolio customers

Between August and November of 1991, the Mazal II and another tanker, the Katerina T., delivered nearly ten thousand tons of Turkish hazelnut oil and Argentinean sunflower-seed oil to Riolio, all identified as Greek olive oil.

Riolio’s owner, Domenico Ribatti, grew rich from the bogus oil, assembling substantial real-estate holdings, including a former department store in Bari. He bribed two officials, one with cash, the other with cartons of olive oil, and made trips to Rome, where he stayed at the Grand Hotel, and met with other unscrupulous olive-oil producers from Italy and abroad. As one of Italy’s leading importers of olive oil, Ribatti’s company was a member of ASSITOL, the country’s powerful olive-oil trade association, and Ribatti had enough clout in Rome to ask a favor—preferential treatment of an associate’s nephew, who was seeking admission to a military officers’ school—of a high-ranking official at the Finance Ministry, a fellow-pugliese.

However, by early 1992 Ribatti and his associates were under investigation by the Guardia di Finanza, the Finance Ministry’s military-police force. One officer, wearing a miniature video camera on his tie, posed as a waiter at a lunch hosted by Ribatti at the Grand Hotel. Others, eavesdropping on telephone calls among Riolio executives, heard the rustle of bribe money being counted out. During the next two years, the Guardia di Finanza team, working closely with agents of the European Union’s anti-fraud office, pieced together the details of Ribatti’s crime, identifying Swiss bank accounts and Caribbean shell companies that Ribatti had used to buy the ersatz olive oil.

The investigators discovered that seed and hazelnut oil had reached Riolio’s refinery by tanker truck and by train, as well as by ship, and they found stocks of hazelnut oil waiting in Rotterdam for delivery to Riolio and other olive-oil companies.
The investigators also discovered where Ribatti’s adulterated oil had gone: to some of the largest producers of Italian olive oil, among them Nestlé, Unilever, Bertolli, and Oleifici Fasanesi, who sold it to consumers as olive oil, and collected about twelve million dollars in E.U. subsidies intended to support the olive-oil industry. (These companies claimed that they had been swindled by Ribatti, and prosecutors were unable to prove complicity on their part.)

You can read this entire fascinating article here: Tom Meuller: Slippery BusinessGive yourself plenty of time. It is an article well worth reading.

There is another good reference here: The Great Olive Oil Scandal from PalestinianOliveOil.org
Investigators have gathered evidence indicating that the biggest olive oil brands in Italy — Bertolli, Sasso, and Cirio — have for years been systematically diluting their extra-virgin olive oil with cheap, highly-refined hazelnut oil imported from Turkey. [1]

A 1996 study by the FDA found that 96 percent of the olive oils they tested, while being labeled 100 percent olive oil, had been diluted with other oils. A study in Italy found that only 40 percent of the olive oil brands labeled “extra-virgin” actually met those standards. Italy produces 400,000 tons of olive oil for domestic consumption, but 750,000 tons are sold. The difference is made up with highly refined nut and seed oils. [2]

EVEN THE BIGGEST OF THEM WILL MISLEAD THE PUBLIC…

“In 1998, the New York law firm Rabin and Peckel, LLP, took on the olive oil labeling misnomer and filed a class action suit in the New York Supreme Court against Unilever, the English-Dutch manufacturer of Bertolli olive oil. The firm argued that Bertolli’s labels, which read “Imported from Italy,” did not meet full disclosure laws because, even though the oil had passed through Italian ports, most of it had originated in Tunisia, Turkey, Spain or Greece. “Bertolli olive oil is imported from Italy, but contains no measurable quantity of Italian oil,” according to court documents.”

Curezone lists manufacturers of adulterated olive oil and marketers of the same oil. It is disgusting. We pay high prices for junk-olive oil. From Curezone.com/forums

The Guilty

Below is a list of known adulterated brands and dishonest distributors with links to information about their cases.

Adulterated brands of extra virgin olive oil
with country of origin

Andy’s Pure Olive Oil (Italy)
Bertolli (Italy)
Castel Tiziano (Italy)
Cirio (Italy)
Cornelia (Italy)
Italico (Italy)
Ligaro (Italy)
Olivio (Greece)
Petrou Bros. Olive Oil (California)
Primi (Italy)
Regale (Italy)
Ricetta Antica (Italy)
Rubino (Italy)
San Paolo (Italy)
Sasso (Italy)
Terra Mia (Italy)

Distributors caught selling adulterated olive oil

Altapac Trading
AMT Fine Foods
Bella International Food Brokers
Cher-Mor Foods International
D&G Foods
Deluca Brothers International
Gestion Trorico Inc.
Itaical Trading
Kalamata Foods
Les Ailments MIA Food Distributing
Lonath International
Mario Sardo Sales, Inc.
Petrou Foods, Inc.
Rubino USA Inc.
Siena Foods Ltd.
Vernon Foods

So who do we trust? How do we know that we are getting a quality, unadulterated product? This is fraud in an international scale!

October 25, 2007 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Bureaucracy, Cooking, Crime, Cross Cultural, Customer Service, Diet / Weight Loss, Health Issues, Italy, Lies, Shopping, Technical Issue, Turkey | , , , , | 29 Comments