There’s a good reason you may be confused whenever you open your refrigerator. From gluten-free, to low-carb, to high-protein, there’s a dizzying array of popular diets. They’ll all supposedly help you lose weight or improve your health. And they all have dedicated followers who tout their benefits.
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The Mediterranean diet is easy to understand and there is plenty of science to prove its worth. It gained attention in the U.S. starting in the late 1980s. Scientific evidence shows that it is cardio protective.
The proof is in the medical studies
In the large-scale study called PREDIMED, strong and convincing results about the benefits of a Mediterranean diet (30 percent reduction in heart attack and stroke) actually stopped researchers in their tracks. Scientists stopped the study early because they had already found definitive proof of the diet’s benefits.
A recent substudy of the PREDIMED research confirmed those benefits by showing physical changes in the lumen or opening of the blood vessels of the participants who ate the Mediterranean diet. Lipid levels in the blood trended down and the volume of blockage went down, too.
A physician’s assessment
Stanley Hazen, MD, PhD, Head of the Section for Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation and Chair of the Department of Cellular & Molecular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, did not participate in the PREDIMED studies. He strongly encourages patients to try the Mediterranean diet.
“The proof is in the numbers: a 30-percent reduction in adverse cardiac events on top of exercise and medications. That is why I recommend the diet,” he says. “Show me a better diet with more proof in hard event data (MI, stroke or death) and I will sing its praise as well.”[Tweet “5 top reasons you should eat the #Mediterranean way for better #hearthealth”]
Top 5 reasons to eat the Mediterranean way
Kate Patton, registered dietitian from Cleveland Clinic’s Section of Preventive Cardiology, offers the top five reasons you should stick with the Mediterranean diet.
- It is supported by extensive research – PREDIMED and other studies point up the cardio benefits.
- It is well-balanced and includes all food groups. You have a wide range of delicious foods to choose from and enjoy.
- It emphasizes whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and healthy cereals.
- It includes very few processed foods such as sodas and commercial baked goods.
- It is more than a diet. The Mediterranean approach to food is a way of eating that includes balanced, whole foods, and is a way of planning meals and snacks that take into account seasonal products. You can find most foods at your local grocery store and farmers’ markets.
Many popular diets come and go, but the Mediterranean diet is one you can follow all your life. After all, the healthiest diet in the world has to be one you will continue to follow, benefit from and enjoy. And with its emphasis on fresh fruits, vegetables and whole foods, you won’t get bored or feel deprived eating the Mediterranean diet.
It is not a mandate or a set of restrictions or gimmicks, but instead, a way forward for a healthy, pleasure-filled life.