Reduce Your Cholesterol and Heart Disease Risk
Heart disease is not an inevitable consequence of aging. A healthy diet can shield you from heart attacks and strokes. What you eat can impact your cholesterol levels, provide protective antioxidant levels, reduce inflammation that harms blood vessel walls and help keep blood pressure and weight normal.
The best way to take advantage of all food has to offer in the way of heart protection is to eat a Mediterranean style diet. The Mediterranean diet concentrates on fruits, vegetables, grains and fish rather than meat, with generous use of olive oil, garlic and wine. It’s the kind of food most people would find a pleasure to eat.
A recent study showed that the traditional Mediterranean diet can reduce levels of harmful LDL cholesterol dramatically, even among people who are at high risk of heart disease. The diet also raised blood levels of beneficial antioxidants. Even participants who adopted just a part of the diet saw enormous benefits.
Researchers tested two variations of the diet – one that included generous amounts of virgin olive oil (about 2.5 tablespoons a day) and one that included nuts – against a standard, low-fat diet. There were 372 participants between the ages of 55 to 80 years, who were all at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Both versions of the diet had a positive effect on the participants’ heart health profile, whereas the low-fat diet had a neutral effect. Even participants who did not stick rigidly to the Mediterranean diet, but who adopted only parts of it, saw an enormous improvement in their cholesterol profile. (Fito, M, et al., Arch Intern Med, 2007; 167: 1195-1203.)