If you’re looking to improve your heart health, consider adopting the Mediterranean diet. Fill your plate with fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and seeds. Cut back on red meat, processed foods, and sugary drinks. And don’t forget to enjoy a glass of red wine with your meals in moderation, another hallmark of the Mediterranean diet.
Researchers reported another remarkable finding: those living in and around the Mediterranean Sea – in countries like Italy, Greece, and Croatia – had less heart disease than participants living elsewhere. Their diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, lean proteins, and healthy fats, seemed to have a protective effect.
Since then, the Mediterranean diet has become the foundation of heart-healthy eating, with well-studied health benefits, including lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
Several studies have found that the Mediterranean diet contributes to better health in various ways, and particularly to better heart health. In a study published in 2018, researchers evaluated nearly 26,000 women and found that those who followed the Mediterranean diet most closely for 12 years had a 25% lower risk of developing heart disease. This was mainly due to changes in blood sugar levels, inflammation, and body mass index, the researchers reported. Other studies, in both men and women, reached similar conclusions.
Research has also shown that the diet can protect against oxidative stress, which can cause DNA damage that contributes to chronic conditions such as neurological disorders and cancer. And some studies suggest that it may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.