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The best diet for heart health is likely the Mediterranean diet, according to the results of the PREDIMED study. Men who want to support their cardiovascular health and prevent heart health related events such as heart attack should follow the Mediterranean diet with a few essential supplemental items.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
Here is a brief explanation of the key components of the Mediterranean diet for heart health for men and overall health.
- Eat primarily a plant-based diet (e.g., vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts [dry roasted or raw], legumes) at every meal
- Eat fish and poultry at least two times a week
- Limit red meat to no more than a few times per month
- Replace butter with healthy fats such as olive oil
- Get plenty of exercise
- Use herbs and spices instead of salt to enhance your food
The best diet for heart health for men
The findings of the new study, which appear in The New England Journal of Medicine, are part of the result of the project PREDIMED, a multicenter trial conducted from 2003 to 2011 to examine the impact of the Mediterranean diet for heart health and prevention of cardiovascular disease. A total of 7,447 adults ages 55 to 80 participated in the study. The subjects were divided into three groups: a Mediterranean diet with supplemental extra-virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet with supplemental nuts, and a low-fat diet that included animal products.
All the participants received advice from dieticians every three months, attended dietary training sessions, and received menus and recipes. Individuals in either of the Mediterranean diet groups were provided with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts. Both extra-virgin olive oil and the nuts provided to the participants are excellent sources of healthy fats called monounsaturated fatty acids.
After five years, the researchers observed a 28 to 30 percent reduced risk of death associated with cardiovascular disease, stroke, or heart attack among individuals in either of the two Mediterranean diet groups compared with the low-fat diet group.
The take-home message, according to the authors, is that a high-vegetable fat diet is better in regard to cardiovascular health than is a low-fat diet. In addition, the authors concluded that their results “support the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.” For men, following the Mediterranean diet for heart health, with a few additional supplements, seems like a wise choice.
Estruch R et al. Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet. New England Journal of Medicine 2013; 368:1279-90