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Studies Suggest Mediterranean Diet Protects Against Stroke And Heart Disease

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By Theodora Filis

The Mediterranean Diet is a great way to lose weight and lower your risk of stoke and heart disease. It is not a fad diet, it is a lifestyle, and has been studied by scientists for over 50 years. Found to be the healthiest diet in the world by doctors and researchers, it is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, and seeds that provide thousands of micro nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Olive oil is said to be one of the main characteristics of the Mediterranean diet as it contains a very high level of monounsaturated fats – oleic acid – which epidemiological studies suggest may be linked to a reduction in heart disease. Olive oil is also high in antioxidants which improves cholesterol regulation and LDL cholesterol reduction.

A recent study, published in BMJ Journal, said healthy people who followed a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. One of the principal reasons for this is the high consumption of legumes, unrefined cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables, moderate consumption of dairy products, mostly as cheese and yogurt, moderate to high consumption of fish, low consumption of meat and meat products, and moderate wine consumption.

Unlike most diets, the Mediterranean diet doesn't cut fat consumption across the board, according to Fred A. Stutman, MD, a Philadelphia-based physician and author of “100 Weight-Loss Tips That Really Work”. Stutman suggests, rather than limiting total fat intake, the Mediterranean diet makes wise choices about the type of fats that are used. Used daily in the Mediterranean diet are the monounsaturated fat found in olive oil, nuts, and avocados; and polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, and trout); and fat from plant sources, like flax seed. Limiting processed and packaged foods keeps the diet extremely low in unhealthy trans fats, which have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease and strokes.

In “Mediterranean Diet In Healthy Lifestyle and Prevention of Stroke” an abstract authored by Demarin V, Lisak M, and Morovi? S, it was reported that “The beneficial impact of fish consumption on the risk of cardiovascular diseases is the result of synergistic effects of nutrients in fish. Fish is considered an excellent source of protein with low saturated fat, nutritious trace elements, long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCn3PUFAs), and vitamins D and B. Fish consumption may be inversely associated with ischemic stroke but not with hemorrhagic stroke because of the potential anti platelet aggregation property of LCn3PUFAs. Total stroke risk reduction was statistically significant for fish intake once per week, while the risk of stroke was lowered by 31% in individuals who ate fish 5 times or more per week.”

Found in abundance in the Mediterranean diet, omega-3 fatty acids are bursting with health benefits. Fatty acids have been shown to reduce the incidence of heart attacks, blood clots, hypertension, and strokes; and may prevent certain forms of cancer and lower the risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer's disease.

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