For years, the Mediterranean "diet" has been touted by many nutrition experts as a way to reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and more, but the advice had been loosely based on the results of "observational studies." People living in countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, including Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey, tend to have a lower risk of those diseases. These folks consume a bounty of fresh and wholesome fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, beans, olive oil, nuts and seeds.
However, the evidence favoring a Mediterranean-style eating plan just got much stronger. A major clinical study published this week in The New England Journal of Medicine found that about 30% of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented with a Mediterranean-style eating plan. Test subjects for this experimental study were selected if they had risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as type 2 diabetes, smoker, hypertension, elevated LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, overweight or obesity, or a family history of premature heart disease. The scientists randomly assigned the 7,447 male and female subjects (ages 55-80) into one of three groups:
The results of this study now position the Mediterranean diet as a powerful eating plan when it comes to the prevention of heart disease. If you want to compare your daily diet to the Mediterranean plan used in the study, here's the checklist:
You don't have to cook exclusively Mediterranean dishes at home to integrate this healthy eating plan into your life. You can easily incorporate these eating strategies into many of your favorite meal plans no matter where you live and which cuisines you prefer.
Mediterranean Chicken with Orzo
Roasted Beets with Gorgonzola, Arugula, and Walnuts
Sautéed Mushrooms with Toasted Walnuts
Slow Cooker Northern Bean and Spinach Soup
Turkish Eggplant Stew
If you're dining out, follow these guides to choose healthier Mediterranean fare:
Dining Out: Italian Cuisine
Dining Out: Greek & Middle Eastern Cuisines
What is your favorite Mediterranean dish? How do you incorporate this lifestyle into your own meals?