Mediterranean Diet is Linked to a Healthy Heart
About the Mediterranean Diet
What is the Mediterranean diet? The Mediterranean diet is commonly consumed in Greece, Spain, southern Italy, and southern France. It consists mainly of low saturated fats and is high in fish, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, olive oil and moderate alcohol (i.e. Red Wine) intake. To follow the Mediterranean diet, it requires a reduction in dairy and red meat consumption to a couple of times per week.
Several studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet has the ability to reduce the risk of heart disease. In fact, a clinical study reviewed in the New England Journal of Medicine (2013) that was conducted in Spain demonstrated that a diet that follows the Mediterranean cuisine can be 30 percent more effective than a low-fat diet in preventing heart attack and stroke in people at high risk for cardiovascular disease.
Other Interesting Effects of the Mediterranean Diet
A Mediterranean diet is not only beneficial for people with cardiovascular disease but also for those who suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic Syndrome occurs when there is a presence of three or more of five risk factors including: large waist, high blood pressure, low "good" (HDL) cholesterol, high triglycerides and high blood sugar. Metabolic Syndrome increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and ultimately death.
Additional research does indicate however that although those who follow Mediterranean diets are not at a decreased risk for developing metabolic syndrome transitioning to one may reverse the effects of metabolic syndrome.
The Mediterranean Diet has been reported to reduce the incidence Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases as well. Although research is sketchy, the Mediterranean diet may aid in reducing symptoms seen in people who suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Finally, those looking for yet another way to manage weight may find that following this diet can aid in weight loss. In a study conducted over a full year period of time, a comparison was done of two groups. One followed a low-fat diet and the other followed the Mediterranean diet. The group that followed the Mediterranean diet on average, they lost 8 pounds more, and lost more body fat mass than the group which followed the low fat diet.
Transitioning to a Mediterranean Diet
Thinking about transitioning to more of a Mediterranean diet? Consider the following steps:
- Slowly decrease red meat intake over time down to once or twice per week
- Cook with olive oil instead of butters, margarines or other transfats
- Increase your intake of fresh fruit for dessert instead of cakes or pies
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