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Think Healthy Thursday: Want to reduce heart attacks? Think Mediterranean

mediterranean posterWe have some unusual and pretty positive news to share from a recent report highlighted in The New York Times

About 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented in people at high risk if they switch to a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables, and even drink wine with meals, a large and rigorous new study has found.

It’s a potential game changer for folk in high risk categories. The results were recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine of a study that tracked 7,447 people in Spain who were overweight, were smokers, or had diabetes or other risk factors for heart disease to follow the Mediterranean diet or a low-fat one…

One group assigned to a Mediterranean diet was given extra-virgin olive oil each week and was instructed to use at least 4 four tablespoons a day. The other group got a combination of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts and was instructed to eat about an ounce of the mix each day. An ounce of walnuts, for example, is about a quarter cup — a generous handful. The mainstays of the diet consisted of at least three servings a day of fruits and at least two servings of vegetables. Participants were to eat fish at least three times a week and legumes, which include beans, peas and lentils, at least three times a week. They were to eat white meat instead of red, and, for those accustomed to drinking, to have at least seven glasses of wine a week with meals.

They were encouraged to avoid commercially made cookies, cakes and pastries and to limit their consumption of dairy products and processed meats.

The scientists were measuring basic results: heart attacks and strokes and death. Again the New York Times reports…

The study ended early, after almost five years, because the results were so clear it was considered unethical to continue.

At Learning ZoneXpress, we’re pleased to report that we’ve been fans of the Mediterranean diet for a while now. In fact we have a colorful poster that promotes and explains the Mediterranean Diet. It’s a great addition to a lunchroom, classroom, staff room – even a Mediterranean Restaurant!

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