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This May be the Only Diet That Can Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

The Mediterranean diet, supplemented with vitamins C, E and folate, is the only dietary model associated with a lower risk for heart disease, according to a new review published in the April 2009 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

The Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains, and healthy oils, such as those found in fish, olives, and nuts. This diet is typical of people who live in the European countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

Researchers from the Population Health Research Institute in Ontario, Canada conducted a systematic review of 146 group studies and 43 randomized controlled trials published between 1950 and 2007.

After pooling the data and applying an algorithm, the researchers found that the Mediterranean diet was the only diet associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

Higher intakes of fish, omega-3 fatty acids from marine sources, folate, whole grains, alcohol, fruits, fiber and dietary vitamins E and C and beta carotene were also associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.  These are all components of the Mediterranean diet.

Beyond heart health, the Mediterranean diet has been found to reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, lower blood pressure, protect against neuro-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and decrease morbidity.

It is important to remember that a healthy diet is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to lowering your risk of developing heart disease. Regular exercise, keeping a low blood pressure, and not smoking are also some of the best ways to protect yourself from heart disease.

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