The study compared the Mediterranean Diet to a low fat diet among nearly 7,500 patients at high risk for heart disease.
After five years, those on the Mediterranean Diet had thirty percent fewer heart attacks, strokes, or deaths from heart disease.
Dr. Tara Narula is a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. "The study is significant because diet is really one of the most underestimated and easy ways to change your cardiovascular risk profile."
The Mediterranean Diet includes extra virgin olive oil, nuts, fresh fruit, vegetables, beans, fish and poultry instead of red or processed meat. It allows for seven or more glasses of wine a week. The low fat diet also encourages fruit and vegetables and avoiding red meat. But it discourages all vegetables oils - including olive oil - and nuts.
"By switching the type of fat you eat, you can have lower cholesterol levels, improve the way your body handles those cholesterol levels, improve the way you handle blood sugar, improve the health of the way the blood vessels function and potentially prevent clotting within those blood vessels," Narula notes.
Geraldine Travali has a strong family history of high cholesterol. Last year, she got a scare.
"I went to the doctor with a cholesterol of 335, which is outrageous."
She began taking cholesterol lowering drug called Crestor and is following a Mediterranean Diet. "It's up to me to take care of myself. My physician can only do so much but I have to do the rest."
The findings were so dramatic that researchers stopped the study after 5 years. It would have been unethical to withhold these results any longer.
(Dr. John LaPook - CBS News)