Can Diet Alone Cut the Risk for Heart Disease?

An interesting study reported on by the New York Times reveals solid evidence that a Mediterranean Diet can reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from heart disease. People that are considered at "high risk" for heart disease can cut their chances by 30 percent if they follow a diet rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruit, vegetables...and even a daily glass of wine.

Risk factors for heart disease include those who are overweight, smokers, or diabetic. This study is considered a breakthrough, because although lower rates of heart disease are found in Mediterranean countries, it has not been scientifically proven, until now, that diet was the main factor. Scientists in Spain randomly assigned 7,447 people that were considered high risk for heart disease, and assigned them to follow the Mediterranean diet or a low-fat diet. Here were the stipulations of the Mediterranean Diet:

"One group assigned to a Mediterranean diet was given extra virgin olive oil each week and was instructed to use at least 4 four tablespoons a day. The other group got a combination of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts and was instructed to eat about an ounce of the mix each day. An ounce of walnuts, for example, is about a quarter cup — a generous handful. The mainstays of the diet consisted of at least three servings a day of fruits and at least two servings of vegetables. Participants were to eat fish at least three times a week and legumes, which include beans, peas and lentils, at least three times a week. They were to eat white meat instead of red, and, for those accustomed to drinking, to have at least seven glasses of wine a week with meals".

The findings demonstrated that the low-fat diet was hard to maintain and non-effective in cutting the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death due to heart disease.  Cheer's to enjoying that glass of wine with dinner every night!

Here are links to some of our favorite Mediterranean Diet-inspired dishes: