Landmark Clinical Study Reports Mediterranean Diet Supplemented with Walnuts Significantly Reduces Risk of Stroke and Cardiovascular Diseases

Feb 25, 2013, 06:00 ET from California Walnut Commission

FOLSOM, Calif., Feb. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Published today online by the New England Journal of Medicine, findings from the landmark Spanish PREDIMED (PREvención con DIeta MEDiterranea) trial, report that a Mediterranean diet including nuts, primarily walnuts, reduced the risk of cardiovascular diseases (myocardial infarction, stroke or cardiovascular death) by 30% and specifically reduced the risk of stroke by 49% when compared to a reference diet consisting of advice on a low-fat diet (American Heart Association guidelines). As one of the world's largest and longest dietary intervention studies, PREDIMED is a multicenter, randomized, primary prevention trial of cardiovascular disease funded by the Spanish Ministry of Health. 





These findings are significant considering that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.  In addition to being the first and third leading causes of death in America, heart disease and stroke result in serious illness and disability, decreased quality of life, and hundreds of billions of dollars in economic loss every year.1 According to lead researcher Dr. Ramon Estruch, "the results of the PREDIMED trial are of utmost importance because they convincingly demonstrate that a high vegetable fat dietary pattern is superior to a low-fat diet for cardiovascular prevention."

Co-investigator Dr. Emilio Ros believes that the unique nutrient profile of walnuts may be a key factor responsible for the benefits reported in the PREDIMED study.  "In addition to being the only nut containing significant amounts of alpha-linolenic acid – the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid – walnuts offer numerous antioxidants and additional nutrients that, I believe, work together synergistically to produce their cardiovascular protective effect," states Dr. Ros.  

The trial included 7,447 individuals (55-80 years old) at high cardiovascular risk who were followed for an average of 4.8 years.  Participants were randomized into one of three intervention diets: Low-fat diet (control group), Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil (50 ml per day), or a Mediterranean diet supplemented with 30 g mixed nuts, primarily walnuts, per day (15 g walnuts, 7.5 g almonds and 7.5 g hazelnuts.) In addition to the benefits of the Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts, the research found that the Mediterranean diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil also reduced the risk of cardiovascular diseases by 30%.

Cardiologist Dr. James Beckerman believes the results of PREDIMED showcase the importance of taking preventive dietary measures to protect the heart. "Extensive research has found walnuts to help reduce cholesterol, decrease inflammation and improve endothelial function. These new results provide further evidence for encouraging people to adopt a Mediterranean diet including walnuts," states Dr. Beckerman.

The PREDIMED trial was financed entirely with public funds from Instituto de Salud Carlos III in Madrid, Spain, through the research networks CIBER Fisiopatologia de la Obesidad y Nutricion and RTIC 06/0045. The study has had continuous support and advice from key investigators in Columbia, Harvard, and Loma Linda universities and the EPIC-Spain study. Supplemental foods were donated, including extra-virgin olive oil (by Hojiblanca and Patrimonio Comunal Olivarero, both in Spain), walnuts (by the California Walnut Commission), almonds (by Borges, in Spain), and hazelnuts (by La Morella Nuts, in Spain). None of the sponsors had any role in the trial design, data analysis, or reporting of the results.

For more industry information, health research and recipe ideas, visit

Media resources available:

Full Study Access:

B-roll :

High Resolution Photography

  • Mediterranean Photos (Beauty and Recipes)

Visit for:

Expert interviews are available upon request:

  • Ramon Estruch, MD, PhD: Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and general coordinator for PREDIMED
  • Emilio Ros, PhD: Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and coordinator of the nutrition intervention for PREDIMED
  • Miguel Ángel Martínez-González, MD, PhD: PREDIMED Researcher
  • Matthew Sorrentino, MD: Professor of Medicine; Preventative Cardiologist, The University of Chicago
  • James Beckerman, MD: Cardiologist, Providence Heart and Vascular Institute; Author of "The Flex Diet"
  • Joanne M. Foody, MD: Medical Director Brigham and Women's Hospital, Cardiovascular Division
  • Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD: Author and Nutrition Consultant
  • Joan Sabaté, MD, DrPH: Chair of Nutrition, Loma Linda School of Public Health

About California Walnuts:
The California walnut industry is made up of more than 4,000 growers and more than 80 handlers. The growers and handlers are represented by two entities, the California Walnut Board (CWB) and the California Walnut Commission (CWC).

California Walnut Commission
The California Walnut Commission, established in 1987, is funded by mandatory assessments of the growers.  The Commission is an agency of the State of California that works in concurrence with the Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). The CWC is mainly involved in health research and export market development activities.

Non-Discrimination Statement
The California Walnut Commission (CWC) prohibits discrimination in all programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance programs.  Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact the CWC offices at (916) 922-5888.  To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).  CWC is an equal opportunity employer and provider.

The California Walnut Commission offices are located at 101 Parkshore Dr., Ste. #250, Folsom, CA 95630


SOURCE California Walnut Commission