New Diet can be Path to Heart Health

5/29/2013

Recent and growing scientific research suggests that a diet rich in olive oil, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, known as the Mediterranean diet, reduces the incidence of serious health conditions, like heart attacks and strokes in individuals with high risk of cardiovascular disease.

The Mediterranean diet features generous consumption of olive oil, tree nuts and peanuts, fresh fruits, vegetables, fatty fish, beans, white meats and moderate amounts of wine, while avoiding red meats and processed sweets. It’s a good option for you and your family to consider if you are exploring dietary changes and new healthy choices.

“The growing body of scientific evidence supporting the Mediterranean diet is exciting,” said Dr. Andrew Plummer, branch chief of Population Health for TRICARE Management Activity. “The Mediterranean diet appears to be a sensible, healthy style of eating that could help TRICARE beneficiaries improve their overall health and lose weight, while eating foods they already enjoy.”

“It may be the balanced blend of foods that give you the benefits in the Mediterranean diet,” said Plummer. “Replacing unhealthy calories from refined breads and sweets, sodas and red and processed meats with calories from foods high in nutrition, makes a huge difference in your health. The Mediterranean diet features less meat and carbohydrates and has more plant-based foods and monounsaturated (good) fat than many common American diets.”

In addition to an estimated 30 percent reduction in the risk of death from heart attack and stroke, some of the other benefits to the Mediterranean diet suggested by a study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine include:

  • Increased longevity
  • Enhanced brain function
  • Decreased risk of some cancers
  • Defense against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
  • Decreased risk of diabetes and several other diseases

Foods to avoid or moderate while on the Mediterranean diet include eggs, butter, red meat, sweets and other desserts. The Mediterranean diet can also include a glass of red wine with dinner while avoiding beer and hard alcohol as a function of personal preference. For more information about the Mediterranean diet, visit the National Institutes of Health at www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000110.htm.

Last Updated 11/7/2014