Clinical Integrative Nutrition & Functional Medicine=
There are so many conflicting diet dogmas in the wellness world today. One day we hear low fat, high carb and the next its high fat, low carb – so which is actually the best in terms of creating longevity and preventing disease?
For this answer, I turn to the “Blue Zones” which are locations all over the world with the highest density of Centenarians per capita, with the lowest instances of Heart Disease on the planet.
FIrst, of note, we are all just as different on the inside as we are on the outside. I do not side with nutrition extremists’ point of view in saying there is one diet that trumps them all. I practice bio-individualized nutrition since we are all remarkably different and there are so many factors contributing to overall health. This point is seen in the mere fact that The Blue Zones all have different ways of eating – some entirely plant based, some entirely animal product based, some low fat and high carb, some high fat and low carb. The one similarity of note in the nutrition of these cultures is the fact that they eat organic, whole foods with little to no packaged and processed foods.
That being said, there is one that seems to stand out above the rest in terms of preventing heart attacks in scientific literature, The Mediteranean Diet.
In The Lyon’s Heart Diet Study, 605 heart attack survivors were assigned either a Mediteranean Style Diet or The American Heart Association’s recommended diet. 4 years later, the survivors following the Mediteranean diet were 50-70% less likely to have a repeat heart attack (1).
The PREDIMED study (3). published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2013 demonstrated that among those with high cardiovascular risk, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and nuts reduced the incidence of major cardiovascular events (stroke, heart attack, and death).
The Mediteranean Diet’s Heart Protecting Properties:
- Healthy Whole Foods:
Organic fruits and vegetables are rich in phytonutrients and minerals are loaded with disease fighting vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory molecules
- Low Glycemic:
Studies show blood sugar imbalances are a major contributor to heart disease (2). Blood sugar spikes are typically caused by eating refined grains and carbohydrates as well as added sugars. The mediteranean diet includes healthful fats, proteins, and carbohydrates creating a more sustained blood sugar release rather than rapid spikes
- High Fiber:
Fiber assists the body in the elimination of toxic components through the bowels. Vegetables, nuts, seeds, and lower glycemic fruits are great fiber boosting choices
- Little to no processed packaged foods:
Chemical laden foods with multiple unrecognizable ingredients contribute to inflammation in the body and can adversely affect sugar and lipid metabolism
- Contains healthful fats, minimizing unhealthy fats:
Anti-inflammatory healthful fatty foods like cold water fish including salmon, sardines, and herring as well as flaxseeds and seaweed benefit your heart by improving your overall inflammatory markers
Hydrogenated fats hidden in margarine, shortening, vegetable oils, and baked and processed foods like cookies and crackers cause inflammation in the body and contribute to heart disease
My #1 Choices for Your Healthy Heart Cart:
- Salmon or Sardines
- Organic, Cold Pressed, Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Leafy Green Vegetables
- Organic, Raw Nuts & Seeds
- Hibiscus Tea
- Green Tea
** BONUS for adding these Heart Healing Tips to your Self-Care routine
- Breathing exercises from the Heart-Math Institute
- Infrared sauna 3x+ per week
- Magnesium Epsom salt baths