Heart Healthy Diet – Mediterranean
Have you heard of this diet? The traditional Mediterranean diet is characterized by generous use of unrefined olive oil (extra-virgin), fruit, nuts, vegetables, legumes (include alfalfa, clover, peas, beans, lentils, lupins, mesquite, carob, soybeans, and peanuts) and cereals, some fish and poultry, and small amounts of dairy products, red meat, processed (chemically treated) meats, and sweets. So think of the Mediterranean diet as a “plant-based” diet. Also a critical component of this diet is what DocHandal preaches – moderate amounts of wine (preferably red) with your meals. (Check with your doc first!)
A recent study in Spain showed that a diet incorporating extra-virgin olive oil or a diet rich in nuts was better than a low-fat diet to lower the rate of major cardiovascular events in folks already at increased risk for heart disease.
This study is unique in that it choose over 7,000 participants (of which 57% were women) who were free of cardiovascular disease (CVD) events (never had ex: heart attack-MI, angina, irregular heard rate) at the start. Even though free at the start of CVD, these participants all had positive risk factors that lead to cardiovascular disease events – either Diabetes or at least three important cardiovascular risk factors, such as smoking, hypertension, or obesity, family history, high cholesterol. Important to remember that all the participants were already at risk for cardiovascular events. All received education – face to face 4/yr. and depending on group assignment, either received free extra-virgin olive oil or free mixed nuts. The study’s goal was to find out what diet could prevent progression to a CVD event.
A Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or mixed nuts saw a reduction in the rate of major cardiovascular events by nearly 30% compared with the control group eating a low-fat diet over 4.8 years.
This study does not say but one may infer that the Mediterranean diet is good for anyone even those without risk factors for heart disease.