Doctors, scientists, and nutritionists alike for years have touted the Mediterranean diet as an ideal way of eating: The native cuisine of Greece, Spain, and Southern Italy—which consists largely of fresh fruits and veggies, olive oil, fish, beans, nuts, and unrefined grains—is balanced, heart healthy, great for skin and hair, and very accessible.
Extensive research has only confirmed all of this, but the latest science might be the most telling yet. According to a new study conducted over 10 years at Harokopio University in Athens, the Mediterranean diet cuts the risk of developing heart disease by half—even beating out exercise in this regard. (Of course, that isn’t to say you should stop breaking a sweat even if you do follow the diet, because exercise is still really, really important.)
The researchers tracked 2,500 Greek adults ages 18-89 over a decade, scoring them based on their adherence to the Mediterranean diet. Those who scored in the top third were 47 percent less likely to develop heart disease than those in the bottom third. In addition, every “point” closer to a totally ideal Mediterranean diet score resulted in a 3 percent decrease heart disease risk.
“[The study] reveals that the Mediterranean diet has direct benefits for heart health, in addition to its indirect benefits in managing diabetes, hypertension, and inflammation,” noted researcher Ekavi Georgousopoulou in a statement about the study. “It shows that the Mediterranean diet is a beneficial intervention for all types of people—in both genders, in all age groups, and in both healthy people and those with health conditions.”
It’s worth noting that the researchers ran their only study on Greek adults, not people of various nationalities. But it’s also worth noting that other studies have shown that the Greek and American rates for developing heart disease are very similar, so it’s not a big stretch to assume a study of American adults might yield similar results. So basically, if you’re into the Mediterranean diet, keep on keepin’ on. And if you’re not, you might want to consider a switch. Perhaps the best part of the diet: It totally allows wine…in moderation, of course. Read more