Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you must have heard this week’s news about a new Spanish study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, that has shown that the Mediterranean Diet can drastically help decrease the chance of heart disease.
How drastic? A 30% reduction in the chance to have a heart attack or stroke! The scientists were so stoked that they cut the study short and rushed to publish its findings! But while the headlines were full of promise, delving a bit deeper into the details shows a more balanced picture.
1. The study was specifically conducted on older people (aged 55-80) who were at high risk for cardiovascular disease. If you are at a low risk, or are younger, results may be different.
2. The study was conducted on people who live in a Mediterranean country. Can we say that the same study conducted in the US would have had the same result?
3. The control group used in the study consumed a low fat diet, not a regular diet that most Spaniards ages 55-80 are used to. Maybe it’s the low fat diet that increased the chances of heart disease?
OK, now that we got this out of the way, let’s be clear: we most certainly advocate the dietary choices of the Mediterranean Diet. By way of reminder, this means:
- less red meat, more fish
- less saturated fats, more healthy fats from nuts and olive oil
- more vegetables and fruits
- red wine
Most of this advice has been around for a long time. If you are having trouble switching to this kind of diet, may we suggest an easy first step when it comes to snack time?
Start by swapping out some of your chocolate candy snacks with nuts. Almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans – whatever tickles your fancy. Mixes too. You can buy them for cheap in bulk. Make sure to have a portion or two ziplocked in your bag for when you get the munchies.