Reduce heart disease and stroke risk up to 60 percent with the Mediterranean diet
(NaturalHealth365) Heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, claims over 600,000 lives per year. But, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 200,000 of these deaths can be avoided by making ‘healthier’ lifestyle decisions – which includes eating a Mediterranean diet.
This should be front page news – every day: Researchers say that following a Mediterranean diet can help ward off heart disease and slash mortality risk – in many cases more effectively than prescription drugs. Yet, this kind of healthy diet news is often suppressed by the mainstream media – which is largely controlled by the pharmaceutical industry.
When you think about it: a well-educated population is a real threat to the profits of our ‘sick care’ system – which wants us to believe that there’s a ‘pill for every ill.’
Why the Mediterranean diet is so good for the heart
The Mediterranean diet features an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes – all rich in fiber and antioxidants. The diet also includes at least three serving a week of fatty cold-water (wild) seafood, healthy fats from olive oil, avocados or tree nuts, and a modest amount of wine with meals.
Editor’s note: There has been a massive reduction in the quality of our food supply in the last 20 – 30 years. Even the Mediterranean diet has been affected – especially when you consider the fraud found in the olive oil industry.
No doubt, GMOs, glyphosate and other poor farming practices place an unhealthy burden on our society. My point is: we should all make the effort to support local (organic) farmers, buy fresh produce from farmers markets and avoid heavily processed food – as much as possible – to protect our health.
In addition to its other health virtues, the typical Mediterranean diet delivers up to 1500 milligrams per day of combined polyphenols – bioactive plant compounds linked to longevity. Among other benefits, polyphenols neutralize free radicals, battle inflammation and reduce insulin resistance.
The diet’s longevity and health benefits have been confirmed time and time again in clinical and population studies.
Heart disease patients would be amazed at these results
In a recently published 2017 study appearing in International Journal of Epidemiology, the Mediterranean diet was found to offer a whopping 60 percent reduction in heart disease risk. Among other benefits, the diet lowered blood pressure, improved cholesterol profiles and decreased levels of pro-inflammatory molecules.
Scientists have long known that the Mediterranean diet can help healthy individuals stay that way. But they wanted to examine its effects on people who already suffered from heart disease.
Research presented at the 2016 European Society of Cardiologists Congress included a seven-year study which showed that people with higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet died 37 percent less often than those who did not follow it consistently. Experts at the Congress deemed the benefits “extraordinary” and noted the diet was “more powerful than any drug.”
The research was significant because – unlike other studies – it didn’t examine the effects of the Mediterranean diet on a population. Rather, it used the diet as an intervention to directly reduce mortality risk.
Benefits include lower blood pressure and reduced inflammation
Inflammation is believed to play a major role in heart disease. The polyphenols and antioxidants of the Mediterranean diet address the problem of inflammation by significantly lowering levels of five different inflammatory markers, including vascular and intercellular adhesion molecules.
A year-long study involving elderly participants and published in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease showed that a Mediterranean diet rich in healthy fats and active polyphenols caused reduction in blood pressure and boosted levels of beneficial nitric oxide.
The diet also caused increased levels of urinary polyphenols – a testament to increased polyphenol circulation in the body.
Key point to understand about the Mediterranean diet
According to recent nutritional recommendations, people should eat ten servings of fruits and vegetables daily to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Unfortunately, most people never get there. In fact, 87 percent of Americans don’t meet the recommended intake of vegetables, and the news on fruit consumption isn’t much better, with 76 percent falling short.
That’s why, in many cases, whole food supplements or extracts can be useful. For example, let’s talk about two of the extracts featured in the scientific literature.
Grape seed extracts lower unhealthy LDL cholesterol, and block oxidized LDL from binding to endothelial cells. They also promote the activation of beneficial nitric oxide, which dilates and relaxes blood vessels.
Olive leave extracts protect heart muscle cells from oxidative damage, cut accumulations of fat in the abdomen and liver and improve glucose tolerance.
As Professor Giovanni de Gaetano, head of the Department of Epidemiology at the IRCCS Neuromed Institute, puts it: “The Mediterranean diet is widely recognized as one of the healthier nutrition habits in the world.”
And, Professor de Gaetano adds, “it is associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases and, more importantly, of death from any cause.”
It’s difficult to think of a more significant benefit than that.
Sources for this article include: