Lead author Dr. Nita Forouhi, of the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and colleagues report their findings in the journal BMC Medicine.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) refers to conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels, including stroke, heart attack, and heart disease.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, killing around 610,000 people annually. Heart attack affects around 735,000 Americans each year, while around 800,000 people are affected by stroke.
Adopting a healthy diet is considered key for reducing the risk of CVD, and numerous studies have suggested the Mediterranean diet fits the bill.
A study published in the European Heart Journal earlier this year, for example, found older adults who adhered to the Mediterranean diet were at lower risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular death than those who followed a Western diet.
The Mediterranean diet is typically high in plant-based foods - such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts - and low in red meats and unhealthy fats. It also incorporates regular consumption of fish and poultry, and red wine is acceptable in moderation.
For their study, Dr. Forouhi and team set out to investigate how adhering to a Mediterranean diet affects the risk of developing CVD, as well as what proportion of CVD cases and deaths might be prevented in the U.K. as a result of adherence to the diet.
CVD risk up to 16 percent lower with the Mediterranean diet
The team analyzed data from 23,902 healthy adults who were a part of the EPIC-Norfolk Study - a multi-center cohort study of more than 30,000 British adults that mainly looks at the link between diet, lifestyle, and cancer.
As part of the study, participants completed food frequency questionnaires, which the researchers analyzed to determine adherence to the Mediterranean diet. They did so using a 15-point score based on guidelines from the Mediterranean Diet Foundation.
Over an average follow-up period of 12-17 years, the researchers identified 7,606 new cases of CVD among the participants, as well as 1,714 CVD deaths.
Compared with participants with low adherence to the Mediterranean diet, the researchers found that subjects with higher adherence to the diet were 6-16 percent less likely to develop CVD.
Applying their results to the U.K. population, the team estimated that if healthy Britons adhered to the Mediterranean diet, around 3.9 percent of new-onset CVD cases and 12.5 percent of CVD deaths could be prevented.
"If our findings are broadly representative of the overall U.K. population, then we can assume that higher level of adherence to the Mediterranean diet could have significant impact in lowering the cardiovascular disease burden in the U.K.," notes Dr. Forouhi.
- Green Tea
Make green tea your drink of choice to quench that thirst, satisfy your minimum daily fluid intake while at the same time burning those calories. Green tea contains the anti-oxidant EGCG which works to burn calories throughout the whole day.
Also keep in mind the added benefit of green tea replacing those drinks laden with sugars and the host of other health benefits such as the anti cancer and cholesterol maintenance properties.
- Whole grain bread
The fibre content of wholegrain bread is high along with the nutritional benefits of the seeds within. Wholegrain toast makes for a satisfying and low GI breakfast and wholegrain bread is excellent for sandwiches or as the side carbohydrate for a meal like soup.
Important to note is that brown bread does not mean whole grain. Some brown bread can contain colourings to achieve its brown appearance.
It is packed with good fats which are conducive to weight loss. It is super easy to prepare and a cost effective, satisfying meal with a plate of vegetables and brown rice for example. A steak of salmon can be covered in a bowl and cooked in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. Try the condiment Chermoula if you can get your hands on it. Delicious!
- Garlic and Onions
Yes we know, garlic and onions are two foods not one. We will bunch them together because of their ease of use and common combination and addition to foods.
Minerals and oils inside garlic and onions help to break down fat and increase the metabolism.
Onions and/or garlic can be utilized in every meal.
If you can appreciate the green flavour of broccoli you have yourself a low calorie, zero fat vegetable that can accompany any meal. Broccoli boasts a great deal of fibre and a host of other health benefits in your daily diet. It is a great accompaniment in almost any meal and filling.
Berries are high in nutrients including antioxidants. When you buy them frozen their freshness is locked in and they can be kept for some time and used in a variety of ways. In summer thaw a few berries in your mouth. Just like ice cubes, only tastier. Add them to your oatmeal, cereal, low fat ice cream or yoghurt.
- Lean Chicken
Versatile, tasty, filling and high in protein. Chicken can be used in a variety of dishes for lunch and dinner.
It is high in protein, great as a part of breakfast, dessert and a tasty snack. Low fat yoghurt is a great way to get your daily dose of dairy and can be transformed into a delicious meal with the addition of fruits or cereal.
- Brown Rice
Once you go brown you’ll never want to go back to white. It has substance and is covered in fibre. The nutty taste and texture of brown rice goes beautifully with your meats (such as lean chicken) and vegetables and is very filling.
Be sure to drink plenty of water when you have something as fibre rich in your diet as brown rice.
Not just rich in Fibre, the high vitamin C content of oranges is conducive to fat burning. Vitamin C promotes the production of Carnitine in the body which oxidizes fatty acids (breaks them down/burns fat).
Preferably eat your oranges fresh rather then in supplement form or juice. The fruit is highest in fiber and a filling and sweet satisfying end to meals.