Big news this week for health-conscious eaters: A major study found that a diet rich in nuts, fruits and veggies, fish, and olive oil — known as the Mediterranean diet — lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke for those at high risk of heart disease. The researchers behind the study say that while more research is needed to show that the diet also benefits those at low risk for the disease, that is what they expect to find.
The New York Times explained why this landmark study is making headlines:
Heart disease experts said the study was a triumph because it showed that a diet was powerful in reducing heart disease risk, and it did so using the most rigorous methods. Scientists randomly assigned 7,447 people in Spain who were overweight, were smokers, or had diabetes or other risk factors for heart disease to follow the Mediterranean diet or a low-fat one.
The article goes on to say:
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.
Compared with those eating the low-fat diet, the extra-virgin-olive-oil group showed a 30% lower risk of having a heart attack, stroke or dying of heart disease after five years, while those consuming the Mediterranean diet with more nuts showed a 28% lower risk of these outcomes.
Food lovers rejoice! The nuts and dried fruit you love to snack on are a key part of the Mediterranean diet. We also share plenty of tasty recipes on our website for cooking up tasty dishes with legumes, such as Cannellini Beans Cheese Tortellini Soup and Israeli Hummus with Paprika and Whole Chickpeas. Just look for recipes on the bottom left-hand sidebar of any product page!
Which staples of the Mediterranean diet do you love best?