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How Does the Mediterranean Diet with Olive Oil Help Manage Atrial Fibrillation?

Mediterranean Diet For Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a typical heart rhythm disorder that affects several people worldwide.

This happens when the upper chambers of the heart, called the atria, start beating irregularly (which in normal conditions beats in a coordinated manner).

This leads to abnormal conditions like blood clot formation, stroke, and heart failure.

Medications to treat Atrial Fibrillation include those that control the rhythm, and heart rate, prevent blood clots, and treat the underlying cause.

Catheter ablation is a procedure to treat AF and is minimally invasive. During this process, thin tubes are inserted into the heart and used to deliver energy like heat or radiofrequency waves which then destroy small areas of tissue (responsible for irregular heart signals).

While this process is effective in treating atrial fibrillation the condition can still relapse.

In the context of atrial fibrillation, new research from the PREDIMAR (PREvención con DIeta Mediterránea de Arritmias Recurrentes) study suggests that a Mediterranean diet mixed with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) might provide a good solution to prevent the recurrence of AF after the catheter ablation.

 
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PREDIMAR Study Design and Findings

PREDIMAR was a randomized controlled trial that involved 720 patients with paroxysmal AF who had undergone successful catheter ablation.

Participants were randomly sent to either follow a Mediterranean diet supplemented with EVOO (Extra virgin olive oil) or continue with their usual diet for a period of two years.

The main thing measured in this research was the rate of AF recurrence. What this study found was that patients who followed the Mediterranean diet with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) had a comparatively lower risk of atrial fibrillation recurrence as compared to those in the control group.

The goodness of the Mediterranean diet for heart health

The PREDIMAR study is another proof of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for heart health.

This diet is full of fruits, vegetables, and whole foods, which, when combined, provide essential nutrients like minerals, vitamins, and fiber.

These factors can lower blood pressure, enhance cholesterol levels, and reduce inflammation, leading to a healthy heart.

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) was enriched in this PREDIMAR study’s intervention and is rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants.

Both of these are known to play a role in protecting the heart by enhancing blood vessel functioning and reducing the risk of blood clots.

 
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Implications of the PREDIMAR study

The PREDIMAR study is actually one of its kind, large-scale trial that analyzed the impact of a specific dietary intervention on AF recurrence after ablation.

The results from this research show that a Mediterranean diet with EVOO can be a good option for treating patients with atrial fibrillation.

This approach is so useful as it is not associated with side effects. Medications typically have one or more side effects which can ruin the desired positive effect.

However, a dietary change is free of such circumstances. Moreover, the Mediterranean diet is a convenient lifestyle change that can be added to daily routines for the long term.

 
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How to follow a Mediterranean Diet with heart conditions:

The Mediterranean diet does not ask you to give up on your favorite foods, and it lets you enjoy delicious and nutritious meals every day. If you are new to this, then start by making small changes to your daily meals. Here is how you can do that.

Swap refined grains for whole grains:

Change white bread, pasta, and rice with whole-wheat options, quinoa, brown rice, or barley as they offer more fiber and keep you feeling fuller for longer.

  • Olive oil is your new best friend:

Let go of butter and unhealthy cooking oils and use EVOO for sauteing, salad dressings, and marinades.

  • Beans are a powerhouse:

Include lentils, chickpeas, and black beans in your meals as they are a fantastic source of protein, fiber, and essential nutrients.

  • Embrace vegetables in every form:

Aim for at least 5 servings of vegetables daily and explore a variety of colors and textures – roast them, add them to stir-fries, or enjoy them raw with a little bit of olive oil and lemon juice.

  • Fish products:

Aim for at least two portions of fatty fish like salmon, tuna, or mackerel each week as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are known to be beneficial for heart health.

 
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Sample grocery list:

  • Whole grains:

    • Brown rice, quinoa, whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat bread
  • Fruits and vegetables:

    • A colorful mix of seasonal options (berries, apples, leafy greens, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes)
  • Legumes:

    • Lentils, chickpeas, black beans
  • Healthy Fats:

    • Extra virgin olive oil, nuts (almonds, walnuts), avocado
  • Lean Protein:

    • Salmon, tuna, chicken breasts, lean ground turkey
 
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Conclusion

The PREDIMAR study shows promising evidence that a Mediterranean diet and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) might lower the risk of AF (atrial fibrillation) coming back after catheter ablation.

This diet, along with regular exercise and other lifestyle changes, could be a helpful way to manage AF and improve heart health.

If you’re worried about AF or the risk of it returning, ask your doctor if the Mediterranean diet could be good for you.

What do you think?

Written by Dr. Ahmed

I am Dr. Ahmed (MBBS; FCPS Medicine), an Internist and a practicing physician. I am in the medical field for over fifteen years working in one of the busiest hospitals and writing medical posts for over 5 years.

I love my family, my profession, my blog, nature, hiking, and simple life. Read more about me, my family, and my qualifications

Here is a link to My Facebook Page. You can also contact me by email at contact@dibesity.com or at My Twitter Account
You can also contact me via WhatsApp 🙏

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