You’ve probably already heard that a Mediterranean diet is good for your health. Numerous studies have linked the diet to reduced risk of stroke, heart attack and other chronic conditions. A new study released on February 25 in the New England Journal of Medicine, adds more credence to these studies.
Researchers from the Universidad de Navarra in Spain enlisted almost 7,500 overweight or obese men and women for the study. They divided them into three groups and put them on three separate diets: a low-fat diet, a Mediterranean diet with a lot of olive oil, and a Mediterranean diet with a lot of nuts.
After five years, researchers looked at the number of participants who suffered heart attacks, strokes or death from heart disease and found that the two Mediterranean diet groups had about a 30 percent reduced risk of these conditions than those in the low-fat diet group.
It is believed the combination of good fats and nutrient-rich compounds found in Mediterranean diets account for the heart-health benefits found in this and other studies like it.
If you and your family would like to reap the benefits of such a diet, it is important to know what a Mediterranean diet is. According to mayoclinic.com, the main components of a Mediterranean diet are:
- Getting plenty of exercise
- Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
- Replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil
- Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
- Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
- Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
- Drinking red wine in moderation (optional)
If incorporating all of these steps are too drastic a change, start off with just a couple. Perhaps this month you can start replacing butter with healthier oils, like olive oil or canola oil and using more herbs and spices instead of salt. Then next month you can start cutting back on the amount of red meat consumed, and so on until you reach a healthy balance. For more information on Mediterranean diets view the list provided here.