"Right fat" diet dramatically lowers heart risk

There's this old joke where a guy sits down in a restaurant and orders a hearty palate-pleasing meal. The waitress yells back to the cook in the kitchen "That'll be one heart attack on a plate, Mel!"

What if she yelled for a heart-attack CURE or stroke REMEDY on a plate instead? Sure it might not be nearly as funny, but, a new study of specific diet plans working to lower heart attack risk finds that, it's probably a heck of a lot more accurate.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, might just allow us to update that old joke after all. Researchers took a closer look at the effects of a diet that I've already recommended to you for heart health before, and concluded that it could significantly lower heart attack risk or your risk for a stroke.

Low fat versus the right fat

The diet, which is rich in delicious extra-virgin olive oil, fruits, vegetables, and nuts--along with a moderate amount of fish and poultry--is known as the Mediterranean diet. And in a five-year study involving 7,447 volunteers, Spanish researchers compared it to the often-praised low-fat diet.

Their conclusion?

Well, let's just say that if the mainstream has convinced you to embrace the low-fat lifestyle, you've been barking up the wrong tree. The low-fat diet just isn't all it's cracked up to be. In fact, it's getting MORE of the right fat--like those found in abundance in the Mediterranean diet--that's the REAL key to keeping your ticker healthy.

And unlike some earlier studies that hinted at the same healthy-fat findings--but that suffered the fatal flaw of relying on people's memory of what they ate--these results are rock solid.

30 percent lower heart risk

Researchers assigned specific diet plans to the volunteers, and then for the next five years followed the participants, tracking incidents of stroke, heart attack, or heart disease-related deaths. One of the diets was a clear winner leaving the low-fat approach in the dust.

The lucky participants who ended up in the Mediterranean Diet group not only got to eat delicious full-flavored foods for almost five years, they’ve also enjoyed a 30 percent lower risk of  heart attack, stroke, or dying from heart disease, when compared to the low-fat dieters. A third group--also on the Mediterranean diet, but with more nuts--had a 28 percent lower risk of the same heart complications.

And when looking at stroke risk alone, the Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of having a stroke by 33 percent--but, with the addition of extra nuts that risk dropped by a stunning 46 percent overall.

In fact, the overall difference in heart risk between the bland, tasteless low-fat diet, and the mouthwatering Mediterranean diet, was so vast that the researchers decided to stop the study early.

(Something I'm sure those low-fat dieters were VERY grateful for.)

If you want to mimic the Mediterranean dieter's success and lower your heart attack risk, replace some of the red meat in your diet with white meat like chicken. Plus eat three or more servings of fish a week.

In addition, have three or more servings of fruit and two or more servings of vegetables every day. And, to raise your stroke protection, you can add in the 30 g of almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts daily that the nut group ate.

Also...and this is very important...be sure to add at least four tablespoons of nutrient-rich extra-virgin olive oil to your diet each day.

The bottom line is that with the Mediterranean diet we have an easy-to-stick-to, heart-protecting diet, that's all about indulgence and flavor, with none of the denial and blandness that the mainstream is so fond of.

What's not to love? I'll have the heart-attack cure special, please!