The Mediterranean Diet: A Heart Health Miracle?

Have you heard that following a Mediterranean diet is better for your heart than exercise? When we heard we might be able to skip the gym and eat our way to good heart health with the Mediterranean diet, we reached out to registered dietitian Anne Cundiff to see if this diet is all it is cracked up to be.

First, it’s important to understand what the Mediterranean diet is. Cundiff explains that the Mediterranean diet focuses on heart health through a more plant-based eating plan. As with any diet, there are pros and cons. The pros, according to Cundiff, are the Mediterranean diet is sound and balanced in almost all nutrients when followed correctly. The diet may reduce the risk for heart disease, cancer and other diseases. The cons are the possibility of not consuming enough whole grains, consuming too much fat (even healthy fat) and not consuming a proper balance of fruits and vegetables, explained Cundiff.

Once we had a better understanding of the Mediterrian diet, we got Cundiff’s take on the recent study that says adults who follow the Mediterranean diet closely can slash their risk of heart disease by a whopping 47 percent. In response to this, Cundiff said, “This study was limited to residents of Greece. This is one of many studies that does show the Mediterrnanean diet, if followed correctly, may be able to reduce heart disease risk. However, I would not support this statement for all individuals in the world because more studies are needed that include other lifestyle factors to determine the actual effect.”

Bottom line: Following this diet does not mean you can skip the gym. And the old adage “all things in moderation” still applies. For those following the Mediterranean diet, make sure you are consuming enough whole grains, keeping tabs on your fat (even healthy fat) intake and changing up your veggies and fruits.

Looking to start following the Mediterranean diet? Cundiff recommends starting with making half your plate fruits and vegetables, a fourth of your plate whole grains and a fourth of your plate protein such as legumes, nuts or seeds, seafood or chicken breast. Also, limit red meat to one time a week. When preparing foods, use olive oil instead of butter.

For more detailed information regarding this diet and if it is appropriate for you to start, visit with a registered dietitian nutritionist.