Feb 252013

Men in my family are riddled with heart attacks in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. The south Louisiana diet of red meats, fried foods and sugary desserts that I was raised on doesn’t help. That type of diet is additive and becomes a way of life that is difficult to give up. Many of my family members live in denial convincing themselves that diet is not the cause of our cardiovascular problems. They believe that it is simply the fate of life, and that you should just live it up and eat what you want while you are here on this planet.

However, we have one more study from Spain that is making it more clear that diet is the major cause of cardiovascular disease for most people. It is also clear that a Mediterranean type of diet substantially reduces our risks of heart disease.

The researchers from Spain’s Universidad de Navarra in Pamplona, assigned almost 7,500 older adults with heart risks to one of three diet groups for 5 years:

  1. Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil
  2. Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts
  3. and a control group with a diet of low-fat dairy products, grains, fruits and vegetables.

The result showed that the people on the Mediterranean diet were 28 to 30% less likely to develop heart disease than the group on the low-fat diet.

The study indicates that to lower your chances of developing heart disease, you should stay away from

  • Refined breads and sugars
  • Sodas
  • and red and processed meats

Instead your diet should involve

  • Eating meat on only one or two days a week
  • Use extra virgin olive oil
  • Eat a lot of vegetables and legumes
  • And replace high-carbohydrate and high-saturated fat snacks with nuts.

If you drink alcohol, drink a small amount of red wine rather than hard liquor.

I believe that this study compliments a recent study at Oxford, which concluded that you can reduce your risks of heart disease by 32% by being a vegetarian. In my older age, I have abandoned my New Orleans lifestyle. My diet now consist mostly of fruits, spinach, kale, bok choy, steel-cut oats, chia seeds, walnuts, peanuts, beans, brown rice, avocados, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, almond and soy milks and sardines. I use very little sugar, and have given up wheat products. It’s a dietary lifestyle that I have learned to live with, and you can too.


Reuters: Mediterranean diet can ward off heart disease

The New England Journal of Medicine: Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet