This Diet Change Could Slash Your Risk Of Heart And Stroke Conditions

Do you have a soft spot for the Mediterranean diet? Great news – it could be prolonging your life and improving your heart health!

New global research conducted by The BMJ has found that the southern European diet can lower the risk of hundreds of millions of people who are more likely to suffer with cardiovascular disease, strokes and heart attacks. Additionally, it can help with the management of type 2 diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

The study consisted of forty trials involving 35,549 people who were monitored over three years across seven diet programmes and were reviewed by researchers from China, the US, Canada, Spain, Colombia, and Brazil.

The study’s authors wrote: “Moderate-certainty evidence shows that programmes promoting Mediterranean and low-fat diets, with or without physical activity or other interventions, reduce all-cause mortality and non-fatal myocardial infarction [heart attacks] in patients with increased cardiovascular risk.”

What Is The Mediterranean Diet?

Unlike many other diets, this approach isn’t very restrictive. This diet includes lots of fruit and vegetables. These are ideally unprocessed but they don’t have to be entirely fresh - tinned, dried and frozen foods are encouraged, as long as there’s minimal industrial processing involved. The NHS recommends that fruit and vegetables should make up around a third of your diet and this is the ideal way to get your fill – especially when combined with the beans, pulses and grains encouraged in the diet.

Potatoes are also very encouraged (HOORAY) with the diet including 3-4 portions per week. Ideally, to get the nutrients and fibres your body needs, skin-on potatoes will play a big part in your weekly eating habits. 

The Mediterranean diet also doesn’t shy away from fats. Instead of promoting low-fat oils, this diet instead promotes plant-based fats such as olive and avocado oil with extra virgin olive oil featured in most main meals and is thought to have many health benefits!

This All Sounds A Little Too Good To Be True?

It gets better - even carbohydrates, demonised by many popular diets, are encouraged in the Mediterranean diet. Of course, in Italy, bread and pasta make up a significant part of the daily diet. The most effective, and healthy way to include these in your diet is to go for more whole grain options, especially if you’re a big bread lover (who isn’t?!). 

How To Get Started On The Mediterranean Diet?

Entirely changing the way that you eat can be daunting so take it one step at a time, if possible. Find recipes that appeal to you and won’t be too hard to make with the ingredients you already have at home. Try to incorporate 1-3 a week at first and try, over time, to incorporate them in place of any processed meals you’d have.

Whenever you are planning a meal with red meat, consider whether there is a white meat or fish that would be better suited. Snack on nuts instead of processed foods and try to get your five a day - your heart will thank you!

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