April 17, 2024

Nearly half of adults in the U.S. suffer from cardiovascular disease. It is one of the most common health conditions. People can prevent cardiovascular diseases in many different ways. What is the easiest method to prevent cardiovascular diseases? What we eat is important.

Why the Mediterranean Diet?

In the 1950s, the Mediterranean diet became popular when it was discovered that heart disease in Mediterranean countries was less common than in the U.S. Numerous studies since then have confirmed the Mediterranean diet’s ability to prevent stroke and heart disease.

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

Ancel Keys was a physiologist who coined first the term “Mediterranean Diet”. The name came from his famous Seven Countries Study, which observed the eating habits of people in Mediterranean-bordering countries like Greece, Italy and Spain, as well as South Africa, Japan and Finland

The study showed that fats are important for cardiovascular health. Polyphenols and monounsaturated fats found in Mediterranean foods can help protect against heart disease and inflammation. Other studies have confirmed this conclusion, showing that the Mediterranean diet reduces cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes.

The Seven Countries Study has also linked certain eating habits of countries such as Greece and Italy to a reduced risk of heart disease. These habits inspired the Mediterranean diet that we know today.

Do not be misled by the word “diet”. According to Dr. Eapen, following the Mediterranean diet does not mean that you have to be hyper-focused in doing this or avoiding doing that. It’s more a way of living and eating. It is also easy to integrate into different diet plans.

Healthy fats are better than unhealthy fats

The Mediterranean diet is primarily based on olive oil. Monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil lower total cholesterol, as well as low-density Lipoprotein cholesterol (or “bad” cholesterol).

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish such as salmon, albacore, mackerel and herring. These polyunsaturated fatty acids help to fight inflammation.

Omega-3 fatty acid also helps decrease triglycerides and blood clotting. It can also lower the risk for stroke and heart failure.

What about red wine?

Red wine is a common part of a Mediterranean diet. Red wine was recommended by doctors in the past. However, recent research has shown that it is not as healthy as previously thought.

We used to focus on alcohol’s heart benefits. In the past few years, we have found that alcohol, in general, and no matter what kind of alcohol you drink, increases cancer risk,” says Dr. Eapen. “Even though alcohol may have some heart benefits, why drink it if you’re only increasing your cancer risk?” “If you already drink alcohol, try to limit it to social occasions and not every day.”

These pillars are a great way to create a healthier diet and find out what works best for you.

The Mediterranean Way

Are you interested in the Mediterranean diet? Start with these tips:

  • Vegetables, beans, and whole grains are great ingredients to include in your meals.
  • At least two times a week, eat fish.
  • When cooking, use olive oil in place of butter.
  • Serve fresh fruit for dessert.

A Mediterranean lifestyle also involves being active and enjoying meals with family. Enjoy the benefits!

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