As we wind up February and American Heart Month we take a look at a heart healthy diet which embraces both good food and wine.
The Mediterranean diet has been around for generations, but now a new study gives us a reason to take a fresh look at this diet rich in fresh foods.
According to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine and featured on NYTimes.com, “About 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented in people at high risk if they switch to a Mediterranean diet.”
The Mayo Clinic agrees, saying, “Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. In fact, a recent analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of overall and cardiovascular mortality.”
The Mayo Clinic cited research saying that the Mediterranean Diet can also take credit for lower cancer death rate as well as fewer occurrences of both Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.
The study released earlier this week was the first of its kind to look specifically at the Mediterranean diet’s results on heart disease.
The Spanish-based study followed nearly 7500 people who were overweight, smoked, and had diabetes or risk factors for heart disease. Researchers at the University of Barcelona followed the groups while they followed either a Mediterranean or low-fat diet.
The Mediterranean Diet has its own food pyramid, as featured on MayoClinc.com. At the base of the pyramid is a foundation of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, beans nuts, legumes, seeds, herbs and spices.
The Mediterranean Diet encourages eating these foods at every meal.
The next level consists of foods that can be eaten daily, but not as often as the first level, with fish being a staple here.
A moderate consumption of other protein and dairy-based foods consisting of poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt make up the next layer.
At the top level are foods that should be limited, which includes red meats and sweets.
Interestingly enough, the Barcelona study-based experts assert that those who followed the Mediterranean Diet stuck to it.
Perhaps one of the incentives to adhere to the Mediterranean plan was that they were asked to have at least seven glasses of wine a week with meals.
Consequently, researchers said, “Those assigned to a low-fat diet did not lower their fat intake very much. So the study wound up comparing the usual modern diet, with its regular consumption of red meat, sodas and commercial baked goods, with a diet that shunned all that.”
My take on this is that modern is not always better. The convenience of fast, processed and nutrient-depleted food could be making us unhealthy.
A diet rich in history and culture, that even incorporates the enjoyment of red wine, may have all the elements we need to live a healthy, happy and festive life.
“The Mediterranean Diet – MayoClinic.com” Mayo Clinic. Web. 26 Feb. 2013.
“Mediterranean Diet Shown to Ward Off Heart Attack and Stroke – NYTimes.com.” The New York Times. Web. 26 Feb. 2013.
Joanne Sgro-Killworth is a Television Fitness Expert, Certified Personal Trainer and Sport Nutritionist. She is Certified in Pilates, Pre-natal/Post-Partum, Yoga and Senior Fitness. She specializes in Weight Loss, Post-Rehab and Post Cancer Training.
Joanne's fitness plans and recipes are available globally on her website www.fitnessanswer.com/ She resides in the Phoenix, AZ area with her husband and son, where she runs her personal training business, Fitness Answer, LLC.
Reviewed February 27, 2013
by MIchele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith