Wow, this is pretty crazy: A large new study published on the New England Journal of Medicine’s website today found that sticking to a Mediterranean diet—that is, one rich in fish, nuts, olive oil, beans, fruits and veggies—can cut your risk for heart attack, heart disease and stroke by as much as 30 percent. Reports the New York Times: “The study ended early, after almost five years, because the results were so clear it was considered unethical to continue.” Say it with me, folks: Daaaang.
People are kind of freaking out over this study for three reasons: 1) it was huge, involving 7,447 people who were randomly assigned to follow either a Mediterranean diet or a low-fat one; 2) researchers intentionally used subjects who were either overweight, had diabetes, smoked or demonstrated other risk factors for heart disease; and 3) it took place in Spain, rather than a Mediterranean country, where previous studies on the diet have been conducted, weakening the linkage between the Mediterranean diet and good health (critics say the good results in those studies could have been attributed to a variety of factors).
For the new study, researchers further sub-divided the Mediterranean eaters into two groups. Listen to how awesome their diets were:
One group assigned to a Mediterranean diet was given extra virgin olive oil each week and was instructed to use at least 4 tablespoons a day. The other group got a combination of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts and was instructed to eat about an ounce of them each day. An ounce of walnuts, for example, is about a quarter cup — a generous handful. The mainstays of the diet consisted of at least 3 servings a day of fruits and at least two servings of vegetables. Participants were to eat fish at least three times a week and legumes, which include beans, peas and lentils, at least three times a week. They were to eat white meat instead of red, and, for those accustomed to drinking, to have at least 7 glasses of wine a week with meals.
Seven glasses of wine? Nuts? Legumes? This is a diet I can stick with.
If you’re eager to jump on the Mediterranean wagon (do it for your heart, people!), here are a few yummy fish recipes to get you started.
Grouper with Tomato-Olive Sauce
via the Mayo Clinic
Curry-Rubbed Salmon with Napa Slaw
via Whole Living
Saffron Fish Stew with White Beans
via Cooking Light
Baked Cod with Roasted Sweet and Sour Vegetables
via Gluten Free Goddess
Halibut with Pesto, Zucchini and Carrots
Cashew Salmon with Apricot Couscous
Seared Salmon with White Beans and Fennel