I’ve already mentioned that the Mediterranean Diet, based off of the eating and lifestyle habits of Greeks and Italians, is consistently ranked one of the best diets for weight loss. A new study, recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, adds new support for this way of eating by suggesting that it also protects against heart attacks and strokes. The study tracked 7,500 Spanish participants ages 55-80 over the course of five years. One-third of the study group ate a standard low-fat diet; one-third ate a Mediterranean-style diet with extra servings of nuts (mostly walnuts); and one-third ate a Mediterranean-style diet with extra servings of olive oil. The groups eating the Mediterranean diets had a 30% lower risk of suffering major cardiovascular problems than the low-fat group, lending further evidence in support of the Mediterranean diet’s heart-healthy properties.
While this study may be the strongest evidence to date of the effects of the Mediterranean diet on heart health, it is by no means 100% conclusive. However, adopting some pillars of this diet would certainly be a good idea not only for people watching their weight, but for those who are concerned about their heart health. The basics behind this way of eating include:
- Limited intake of processed foods; eating mostly whole foods (those as close to their natural state as possible)
- Plenty of heart-healthy fats (in the form of olive oil and nuts)
- Lots of fruits and veggies
- Fish at least twice a week
- A limited amount of red meat and added sugar
The Mediterranean Diet is fairly easy to follow (the Boston-based food think tank Oldways has some great information on their website), and is one of the tastier healthy-eating options, in my opinion. By focusing on eating smaller portions of unprocessed food, not only will your waistline thank you, but now your heart will as well.