Dr. Chauncey Crandall has seen the Mediterranean diet work miracles for his patients.
After suffering life-threatening heart disease or a heart attack, men and women have been able turn their health around by implementing the ancient diet and lifestyle concepts of those living near the Mediterranean Sea, said Dr. Crandall, one of the nation’s top cardiologists, who has touted this eating plan for years.
Earlier this week, a major new study confirmed that the Mediterranean diet outperforms other diets in preventing heart attacks.
“People always are chasing after some new fad diet, but the strength of the Mediterranean diet is that it’s been proven time and time again,” Dr. Crandall told Newsmax Health. “This is a diet that dates back to Biblical times, and here comes another study that says that yes, it indeed works.”
The new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that the diet, which is rich in “good fats,” cut the risk of cardiovascular events by 30 percent, even in people at high risk for them. The study was notable because it subjected the Mediterranean diet to more rigorous standards than earlier, anecdotal studies.
Dr. Crandall – head of preventive medicine and cardiology services at the world-renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic – said he sees the benefits of a Mediterranean-type diet in his patients daily. “Just today I had a patient who had been diagnosed with moderate coronary heart disease. He decided to follow the Mediterranean diet, which reversed his heart disease. His blood pressure is down, he brought his total cholesterol down to under 100, and this diet has helped keep him out of the hospital,” Dr. Crandall said.
Just before the study was released, Dr. Crandall showcased the Mediterranean diet as one of his top weapons against heart disease the March issue of his monthly Heart Health Report newsletter. He said he chose the diet because of its focus on fresh, unprocessed foods, and preparation techniques, which favor simple baking or grilling, instead of frying.
“The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, legumes, healthy fats like olive oil, and moderate amounts of alcohol. It is also low in sweets, meats, and saturated fats like butter,” Dr. Crandall said. “Tasty additions, like Greek yogurt, olives, goat cheese, and an occasional glass of red wine make it easy to stick to.”
He also likes the Mediterranean diet because studies find it not only protects against heart attacks and stroke, but may also help fight cancer, diabetes, and, Alzheimer’s disease.
However, Dr. Crandall cautioned that just following the diet is not enough. To maximize the results, he said, “You also need to follow the lifestyle of the Mediterranean people. They walk to the market, they walk home and cook the food, they walk a lot, so they are constantly getting exercise.”
Here are Dr. Crandall’s tips for maximizing the lifesaving effects of the Mediterranean diet:
- Make sure you regularly eat cold-water fish, like salmon, and be sure it is not farm-raised.
- Eat organic, free-range eggs. These are richer in beneficial omega-3 fats than factory farm eggs.
- When it comes to nuts, walnuts, almonds, and pecans are all good choices. But make sure they are raw and unsalted with no added oil.
- Olive oil is an important component of the Mediterranean diet. Choose cold-pressed, organic olive oil.
- If you don’t wish to drink wine, a glass of organic grape juice will provide the same benefits.