If you’re of the age or body type that makes you worry about having a heart attack or stroke, you are probably quite mindful of your weight and calorie intake.
After all, medical research has established a direct link between obesity and cardiovascular diseases, and most doctors advise low-fat diets for sustained weight loss.
But according to an article published recently in the Postgraduate Medical Journal, there’s a better way to tackle obesity than calorie counting, and that’s by following a Mediterranean diet, BBC News reports.
In a dig at the thriving weight-loss industry, the authors of the article said that the focus should be on “good nutrition” rather than calorie restrictions. They warned that crash dieting is harmful to health.
“What’s more responsible is that we tell people to concentrate on eating nutritious foods,” says Dr. Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist and lead author of the article.
By Mediterrarean cuisine, the authors don’t mean sausages dribbling with grease or plates heaping with pasta. They are thinking more along the lines of comfort foods that are full of healthy ingredients.
Brought to us through centuries of cooking traditions from Greece, Spain and Italy, the Mediterranean diet is friendly to both the taste buds and the heart.
It typically involves lots of vegetables, fresh fruit, wholegrain cereals, olive oil and nuts, as well as poultry and fish, rather than red meat, butter or animal fats.
These are the kinds of foods that help us reduce weight and avert heart attacks and strokes.
“It’s going to have an impact on their health very quickly. We know the traditional Mediterranean diet, which is higher in fat, proven from randomized controlled trials, reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke even within months of implementation.”
The authors also recommend a Mediterranean diet for heart attack survivors, saying that research shows it is almost three times as effective at reducing deaths as taking cholesterol-lowering statin medication.
The doctors aren’t recommending that people gorge on Mediterranean food. Moderation is still the key, of course.
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