Another day, another study in support of the Mediterranean diet. People that consume more plants than animal products may benefit from a lower risk of heart disease or stroke.

Following the diet surveys of 450,000 European adults, researchers found those diets that were 70 percent plant-based – whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetable and nuts – had a relatively lower risk of dying from heart disease.

How low? You can cut your risk by about 20 percent when compared to those with eating over 50 percent meat, dairy, fish and eggs.

Before you jump on Amazon and order the Mediterranean Diet, lead researcher Camille Lassale from Imperial College has a caveat. The findings could not directly prove the plant-based foods deserved the credit in lowering risk.

Her team accounted for various factors in nailing down the results such as weight, exercise habits and education levels. Still, Lassale said it is hard pinpoint the semi-vegetarian diets as the singular reason behind the reduction in risk.

The team’s findings will be presented at a American Heart Association meeting in Baltimore. From there, it is looking for inclusion in a peer-reviewed journal. The AHA already recommends much of what Lassale found. Limit red meat and saturated fats.

“This isn’t revolutionary,” Lassale said of the findings. “It’s a simple message: Replace some meat, eggs and dairy with beans, nuts, [grains] and vegetables.”

These results do contain good news for dieters. If you don’t want to go vegetarian, you can avoid it. Lassale says it’s as easy as looking at your dinner plate. Make sure it has more plant-based foods than meat or dairy. No, extra tomato sauce and vegetable toppings on the pizza does not qualify.

As for fish? The AHA and Lassale urge people to stick to fish that are rich in omega-3s. Good sources include salmon, trout and herring.

Mediterranean Diet

This diet has been consistently at the top of rankings for years. Doctors love it, as do dieters. Win-win for both sides. Before you think you can just do this and all will be well, the diet still urges you to become physically active. It doesn’t have to be Crossfit, but you should not have a competition with your couch.

  • The key components of the Mediterranean diet are as follows:
  • Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
  • Replacing butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil
  • Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
  • Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
  • Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
  • Drinking red wine in moderation (optional)

Drinking red wine optional? Live a little. Just remember the diet urges you to keep the focus on fruits, vegetable and whole grains.

For more information on habits for a health heart, visit the American Heart Association.

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