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Mediterranean diet cuts heart disease risk

You don’t have to live in Greece — a Prairie version is available

Greeks might be in debt, but their hearts are in good shape, according to a study released at American College of Cardiology’s 64th Annual Scientific Session in San Diego.

Ekavi Georgousopoulou and Demosthenes B. Panagiotakos of Harokopio University in Athens studied a group of more than 2,500 Greek adults, ages 18 to 89, who closely followed the Mediterranean diet for 10 years. The group was 47 per cent less likely to develop heart disease compared to others who did not follow the diet.

The researchers say their study is the first to track 10-year heart disease risk in a general population. Most previous studies have focused on middle-aged people.

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“Our study 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,” Georgousopoulou said in an American College of Cardiology release. “It also reveals that the Mediterranean diet has direct benefits for heart health, in addition to its indirect benefits in managing diabetes, hypertension and inflammation.”

While there is no set Mediterranean diet, it commonly emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, fish, olive oil and even a glass of red wine.

Georgousopoulou said the diet can be adapted to other regions.

“Because the Mediterranean diet is based on food groups that are quite common or easy to find, people around the world could easily adopt this dietary pattern and help protect themselves against heart disease with very little cost.”

Two University of Alberta nutrition professors have suggested a Prairie version of the Mediterranean diet based on dairy, meats, canola, pulses and grains. Catherine Chan and Rhonda Bell have written a book titled Pure Prairie Eating Plan, and maintain a website with recipes and other information on the plan at pureprairie.ca.

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