For a Healthy Heart, Should You Make it Mediterranean?

When it comes to your diet, you may want to do as the Mediterraneans do and load up on olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits, and vegetables.

About 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes, and death from heart disease can be prevented in people at high risk by adopting a Mediterranean diet rich in those foods, according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Mediterranean Diet

“This latest research builds upon several prior studies sup-porting the Mediterranean diet and is one of the best diet studies done to date,” says Amit Khera, M.D., Director of UT Southwestern’s Preventive Cardiology Program. “It will have an impact on recommendations doctors make to their patients.”

To determine how Mediterranean your diet is, answer the following questions prepared by a dietary expert at UTSW. For each “yes” answer, give yourself one point.

Aim for a score of six or better to perhaps significantly reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

To schedule an appointment with a UTSW Preventive Cardiology specialist, call 214-645-8300.

Do You Eat:

  • More than 2 cups of vegetables a day?
  • Beans or legumes daily? Examples of beans and legumes are: dried beans and peas, including navy, broad, butter, lima, northern, pinto, red, and black beans, as well as chickpeas and soybeans.
  • More than one fruit each day?
  • More than one whole grain per day?
  • Fish more than once a week?
  • Nuts on most days?
  • Less than 4 oz. of meat or poultry per day?
  • Less than 2 cups of milk or 2 oz. of cheese per day?
  • More monounsaturated fats than saturated fats? Monounsaturated sources include olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, olives, avocados, and nuts. Saturated sources include meat fat, poultry fat, whole milk, butter, cream, whole milk cheeses, hydrogenated vegetable fats, coconut and palm (tropical) oils, and cocoa butter.
  • Moderate consumption of alcohol (no more than 5 oz. of wine per day for women and 10 oz. per day for men) and getting plenty of physical activity are also part of the Mediterranean lifestyle plan.