Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease with This Diet!
From Atkins to Paleo, there’s no shortage of trendy diets promising health benefits and weight loss. But if you’re looking for one that’s moved beyond being buzzed about to being backed by countless studies, look no further than the Mediterranean diet.
Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
People have long been singing the praises of the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fish, olive oil, whole grains, vegetables, and nuts. The reason is simple: it may help you live longer.
One way it promotes longevity is by helping ward off heart issues—even if you have a preexisting condition. A study presented at the European Society of Cardiology’s annual meeting this year looked at 25,000 people. Of that group, about 1,200 had heart disease when the study began. Over the course of seven years, participants answered questions that helped researchers determine how closely their food intake reflected a Mediterranean diet. Those who followed the diet the most closely had a 37 percent lower mortality risk than those on the other end of the spectrum who opted for meals heavy in meat, dairy, and sweets.
Additional Research Supports This Way of Eating
That’s certainly not the only study to tout the perks of the diet common among residents of Greece, Italy, and Croatia. Here are three others to consider:
- A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found when people at risk for a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack, followed a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil or nuts, they reduced their risk by 30 percent. (Note that the study has since been reanalyzed and republished here. The findings remain the same).
- Following the diet can delay cognitive decline as you age, reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s, and slow down the progression of the disease, too. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why the link exists, but they speculate aspects of the diet protect brain tissue and keep blood vessels running smoothly.
- A study published in the European Heart Journal found people who ate a Mediterranean-like diet were less likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke, or death compared to those who ate a Western diet rich in unhealthy foods.
The Potential Downsides of the Mediterranean Diet
It’s clear that following the Mediterranean diet comes with loads of benefits, including its potential ability to help lower the risk of heart disease, but there is some confusion over how much fish and how many nuts you need to eat to tap into the health perks. In general, reaching for Mediterranean diet-approved foods is a good guideline to follow when deciphering between what’s healthy and what’s not, but there isn’t a lot of specific information about what to eat on a daily basis. Plus, since the diet promotes plant-based foods over meat and dairy, it could result in a drop in your iron and calcium levels.
Still, as far as diets go, it’s not nearly as restrictive as some of the trendier diets out there. It even includes wine (in moderation, of course).
If you would like to be kept informed about nutrition and heart health topics, you can subscribe to our email list here.
About the Author:
Moira Lawler earned her bachelor's degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Since then, she’s written about a range of lifestyle topics, but she loves health and fitness the most. She has written for magazines and websites, including Men's Health, Crain's Chicago Business, Shape.com, WomensHealthMag.com, and MichiganAveMag.com. When she’s not writing, Moira’s probably running or walking in her hometown of Chicago, always trying to reach her daily step goal.
Mitrou, PN, Kipnis, V, Thiebaut, AC, et. al. (2007). Mediterranean dietary pattern and prediction of all-cause mortality in a US population: results from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, Archives of Internal Medicine.
Stewart, R, Wallentin, L, Benatar, J (2016). Dietary patterns and the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events in a global study of high-risk patients with stable coronary heart disease, European Heart Journal.
Smith, G. Can a Mediterranean diet lower my risk of Alzheimer's?, Mayo Clinic.https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000110.htm
- Blog Contributor