The Whole-Diet Approach to Heart Disease Prevention

Consider what a difference  it could make to your health if you planned meals using a whole-diet approach. Developing eating habits that take the whole-diet approach into consideration can help reduce your risk of developing heart disease. In fact, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends the holistic Mediterranean diet as an eating plan that can help promote health and prevent heart disease over time.

Developing a balanced diet includes increasing consumption of a variety of foods or food groups, rather than simply restricting specific foods or food groups. The Mediterranean diet incorporates components from the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including the healthy basics of eating with the distinct ingredients of Mediterranean cuisine.

Like most healthy diets, the Mediterranean diet encourages a diet high in fruits, fish and whole grains as well as low in unhealthy fats. Those who follow the Mediterranean diet emphasize the following guidelines:

  • Eating primarily plan-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
  • Replacing butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil
  • Using herbs and spices to add flavor in place of salt
  • Eating fish and seafood at least twice a week
  • Limiting red meat and sweets to less than twice a week
  • Moderating poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt consumption
  • Drinking red wine in moderation (optional)

Research has linked this particular diet to a reduced risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity. In fact, the New England Journal of Medicine reports that eating a Mediterranean diet rich in either extra-virgin olive oil or nuts can reduce a person’s chances of developing or dying from a heart condition by as much as 30 percent.

Though it is one of the most popular and widely researched eating plans, the Mediterranean diet is just one of the many whole-diet approaches that promotes heart health. Regardless of which whole-diet you may or may not choose to follow, there is increased evidence that incorporating a balanced diet of a wide variety of food groups, as opposed to just one or two specific nutrients, is a good idea for both your heart and your overall health.

To learn more about developing a holistic diet and lifestyle to prevent a wide range of chronic diseases, including heart disease, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. Don’t have one yet? Use our Find a Doctor tool to locate a physician in your area.

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