A Mediterranean diet may help protect people against rheumatoid arthritis. A high intake of olive oil and cooked vegetables may reduce the risk of developing the disease. In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system reacts against the body's own tissues to cause joint swelling and pain, and eventually even the destruction of a joint. The causes remain unknown, but previous studies have suggested that dietary factors have a role in the disease.
The researchers found that people who used the most olive oil were significantly less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than people who consumed the least. Participants who ate the greatest number of servings of cooked vegetables were about 75% less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than those who reported eating the fewest servings, the team determined. People with the lowest intake of cooked vegetables ate 0.85 servings of cooked vegetables a day, on average, and people with the highest intakes ate an average of 2.9 servings a day.
In contrast to other studies, which have found that supplementing the diet with fish oil improves symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, the Greek investigators found no protective effect from a high intake of fish. The authors point out that Mediterranean people do not normally eat the type of fish that are rich in protective fatty acids -- deep-water fish such as herring and mackerel. On the other hand, they suggest, the relatively high level of unsaturated fatty acids found in olive oil may help suppress the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis, in much the same way that fatty acids in deep-water fish do.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition November 1999;70:1077-1082.
COMMENT: I suspect that the high amounts of vegetables also had more to do with the researchers observations than the olive oil. Vegetables are one of the best investments you can make in your health. I believe that raw vegetables are far better than cooked which is why the vegetable juicing program I have mentioned previously is so helpful for your health.