Worried about having a heart attack? Reduce the risk by eating like the Spaniards. That is the recent advice that emerged from a study that examined the health benefits associated with following the Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, beans, vegetables, nuts, fish, and fruits.
In fact, about 30 percent of deaths, strokes, and heart attacks can be prevented by following the diet, according a new study published on The New England Journal of Medicine’s website recently. The findings even revealed that drinking wine with meals could reduce the risks.
The study was so clear and conclusive that researchers felt compelled to call it quits early – just after five years – because it would be unethical to continue.
The study followed 7,447 people in Spain who were overweight, smoked or had diabetes or other risk factors for heart diseases as they switched from their normal diets to the Mediterranean diet which is essentially low fat. Researchers assigned one group to use extra virgin olive oil weekly, using about 4 tablespoons a day. The other group was told to eat a combination of nuts, such as walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts – about a quarter cup worth.
The diet’s mainstay? Three fruit servings and two vegetable servings daily. At least three times a week they were required to eat beans, peas, lentils and eat white meat instead of red meat. Those who routinely drank were told to keep drinking, as much as seven glasses of wine a week with meals.
The result was the whopping 30 percent decrease in stroke, heart attack or death. It sounds simple enough. Eat healthy. Stay away from red meat and follow your mother’s advice to always eat your vegetables. In America’s fast paced environment of take-out food and quick meals, staying on this diet would be much easier said than done. But the results are clearly worth the trouble. The next time you are at restaurant maybe try ordering the fish or chicken instead of the bloody steak. Oh, and don’t forget the wine to wash it all down.