A recent study out of Spain claims that a high fat Mediterranean diet and daily glass of red wine is good for your heart.
Patients with high cardiovascular risks who were put on the high fat Mediterranean diet fared better than the risk group who were put on a low-fat diet over the course of the five year study. Patients did not have history of heart problems like prior strokes or heart attacks, but had other risk factors ranging from high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking.
The study broke participants into three groups – one on a low-fat diet, another on a diet rich in olive oil, and the third on a diet high in fats from nuts. According to Dr. Miguel Angel Martinez-Gonzalez, “study participants on a Mediterranean diet that emphasized either olive oil or nuts had a 30 percent greater reduction in relative risk of heart attack, stroke or death from cardiovascular disease.”
The traditional Mediterranean diet is made up of lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, legumes (beans), minimally processed/unrefined cereals and grains, as well large amounts of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from olive oil and nuts. Eating plenty of fish, moderate cheese, yoghurt and other dairy, and a lower intake of lean red meat and chicken is also part of the diet.
Exciting news from this study confirms that the Mediterranean diet combined with the consumption of one glass of red wine every day has been shown to be beneficial for heart health as well. Who doesn’t want to feel good about having a nice glass of merlot or cabernet with their dinner of grilled chicken, pasta and salad?
The main restriction of this diet is to avoid saturated fats. So it basically boils down to eating healthy fats from olive oil and nuts and staying away from the saturated “bad” fats in butter, dairy, red meat, other cooking oils and highly processed foods.
A different study published last year also touts the cardiovascular benefits of the Mediterranean diet, as well as the lowered risk of developing cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases; and it may even “have a protective role against obesity”(1).
Many studies over the past decade continue to support the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, but it’s important to remember that adding high calorie “good” fats from olive oil and nuts alone is not the best way to lose weight. Instead, a well-rounded diet of whole grains, lean meats and fresh fruits and veggies must be eaten to help balance out daily calorie intake that includes these healthy fats.