Yet another study finds Mediterranean diet cuts heart disease

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…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 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 of 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…

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.”

Bravo! I often joke that between my Scottish heritage and Italian heritage I’m lucky I learned to cook from the Italian side. That’s always been a joke about flavors – and sort of about health, too.

Actually, my Scottish/Canadian kin are pretty healthy; but, their diet – with the exception of olive oil is pretty similar to the Mediterranean diet because they are fisherfolk and farmers, island dwellers who don’t rely much on processed industrial food. My immediate family, we ate Italian/Mediterranean from birth. Good olive oil is ambrosia as far as I’m concerned. And growing up workingclass on the New England coast, subsistence fishing was natural to my life.

No doubt there will be beaucoup follow-on studies. If for no other reason than folks with a vested interest in other diets will try to counter the results of this study. But, it ain’t anything new to me, to most folks with sufficient Mediterranean heritage to have it guide their upbringing about diet.

Even if your state banned sleazy payday loansharking, scumbags get round that with friends like JP Morgan Chase

Major banks have quickly become behind-the-scenes allies of Internet-based payday lenders that offer short-term loans with interest rates sometimes exceeding 500 percent.

With 15 states banning payday loans, a growing number of the lenders have set up online operations in more hospitable states or far-flung locales like Belize, Malta and the West Indies to more easily evade statewide caps on interest rates.

While the banks, which include giants like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, do not make the loans, they are a critical link for the lenders, enabling the lenders to withdraw payments automatically from borrowers’ bank accounts, even in states where the loans are banned entirely. In some cases, the banks allow lenders to tap checking accounts even after the customers have begged them to stop the withdrawals…

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are examining banks’ roles in the online loans…Benjamin M. Lawsky, who heads New York State’s Department of Financial Services, is investigating how banks enable the online lenders to skirt New York law and make loans to residents of the state, where interest rates are capped at 25 percent.

For the banks, it can be a lucrative partnership…Some state and federal authorities say the banks’ role in enabling the lenders has frustrated government efforts to shield people from predatory loans — an issue that gained urgency after reckless mortgage lending helped precipitate the 2008 financial crisis.

While the loans are simple to obtain — some online lenders promise approval in minutes with no credit check — they are tough to get rid of. Customers who want to repay their loan in full typically must contact the online lender at least three days before the next withdrawal. Otherwise, the lender automatically renews the loans at least monthly and withdraws only the interest owed. Under federal law, customers are allowed to stop authorized withdrawals from their account. Still, some borrowers say their banks do not heed requests to stop the loans…

While there are no exact measures of how many lenders have migrated online, roughly three million Americans obtained an Internet payday loan in 2010, according to a July report by the Pew Charitable Trusts. By 2016, Internet loans will make up roughly 60 percent of the total payday loans, up from about 35 percent in 2011, according to John Hecht…

Facing increasingly inhospitable states, the lenders have also set up shop offshore. A former used-car dealership owner, who runs a series of online lenders through a shell corporation in Grenada, outlined the benefits of operating remotely in a 2005 deposition. Put simply, it was “lawsuit protection and tax reduction,” he said. Other lenders are based in Belize, Malta, the Isle of Man and the West Indies, according to federal court records.

Most of the lower 48 states used to have laws forbidding usury, capping interest rates anywhere from 8 to 18%. Our buddies in the big banks took care of that one when they discovered the credit card method of printing money. State and federal legislators rolled over and played dead to help consumers increase their debt load.

The efforts by the FDIC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau demonstrate to onlookers the real reasons behind opposition to those portions of Dodd-Frank. Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats acted out their fealty to the biggest banks in the world as fiercely as any leg-breaker on the payroll of a Mafia loan shark. Perish the thought a sucker should get an even break – much less have the power of government on his side.

Nope. Screwing the working poor is just as important to these thugs as screwing the middle class.