Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.See all posts »
The Mediterranean Diet: Never Too Soon to Start
Many people live their lives under the impression that they can start worrying about their health later, when the kids are grown, when they have more time, when work isn’t quite so stressful, when (you fill in the blank). But the truth is that whether we are 15 or 50, what we do now may impact our health and well-being for the rest of our lives.
If you’ve been keeping up with me on this blog, or if you’ve read my book, you know that I am a huge fan of the Mediterranean diet. Rich in heart healthy antioxidants, this diet includes plenty of green leafy vegetables, fruit, nuts, olive oil, whole grains, and fish, along with an occasional glass of red wine.
Since most studies of the Mediterranean diet have included older adults, researchers at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, decided to evaluate the impact of the diet on mortality in generally healthy middle aged and younger adults. The average age of the population studied was 38, with a range of 26 through 50 years old. Over 15,000 individuals were enrolled and followed for about seven years.
After adjusting for factors such as body mass index, smoking, blood pressure, cholesterol, and physical activity, the differences were striking. The group who opted for a moderately strict Mediterranean diet had about half the number of deaths as those whose diets were closer to our typical Western diet. Even more striking, those who made the Mediterranean diet a part of their daily lives had nearly two-thirds fewer deaths.
The Mediterranean diet is delicious and can be as simple or as complicated as you’d like to make it. If you’re watching your budget, you’ll find plenty of ways to make the Mediterranean diet as smart for your wallet as it is for your heart.
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