Because my own mother’s good health was destroyed by multiple strokes, I am particularly sensitive to and interested in this subject. I want to know the answer to the question, “Does a Mediterranean diet reduce stroke risk?” I also want to establish for you and for me what the basics are that comprise a Mediterranean Diet.
There have been numerous studies done on the effects of a Mediterranean diet and our health. Relative to the risk of stroke, the findings indicate that especially for women over 40, a Mediterranean diet is effective in reducing the risk of stroke. The reason is not clear, but the benefits appear to be greater for women than they are for men, although the ultimate recommendation is that this type of diet is beneficial for both men and women. While the recommendation is strongest for people at high risk, the recommendation for people with low risk is also there as people with no apparent indication of stroke are victims as was my mother.
There is the additional benefit that following a Mediterranean diet has been shown to be associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, so it’s a win-win!
What should you eat on a Mediterranean diet? The diet consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, nuts and legumes, small amounts of lean meats and minimal dairy as well as moderate alcohol consumption. The main source of fat is olive oil although avocado oil is good as well. Very basically, if you keep your diet simple with lots of salads and small amounts of lean protein, that’s a good way to improve your health.
What to avoid? Added sugar of any kind. For a list of more than sixty names of sugar, check this list out on my website. There are some I had never heard of…have you ever heard of “treacle”?? Sugar goes to fat, causes inflammation and there is no upside to it health-wise. We all know it tastes wonderful and makes us feel good for a short time. Sugar is a fickle friend.
Trans fats should be avoided at all times. They are listed on the ingredients label as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats like soybean oil, canola oil, etc. The processed food companies turn a liquid unsaturated fat into a solid fat by adding hydrogen which stabilizes the oil and gives it a longer shelf life. While that is a benefit for big food, the hydrogenation makes the oils highly inflammatory which causes plaque to build up in our arteries. This buildup of plaque in our arteries is a key component in the danger of experiencing a stroke.
What to do? Begin by making some simple changes. No more canola oil! This oil, while touted as being healthy is not good for you! Use olive oil, avocado oil or coconut oil. Reduce or eliminate fast food from your diet. Along with tons of salt and sugar, they give you mega doses of trans fats. Learn to read your food labels. Check out the TV show I did on WestfordCat about How to Read Food Labels to learn how to decipher them.
Changing how you eat is a lifestyle change, and it’s a process. You can do it! You can learn to eat to feel better both mentally and physically.
I want you to let me know what other questions, topics, issues you would like me to cover for you. I’m here to serve you in your quest for better health through healthier eating.
Helping You Achieve Major Wellness in Your Life!
Cheryl A Major
Cheryl A Major lives in Westford and is a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant. Her TV show, Thin Strong Healthy, airs on WestfordCat and is an offshoot of her blog http://ThinStrongHealthy.com Cheryl offers ongoing information, live and online courses and personal health coaching to help you feel better and be healthier. Follow Cheryl on Twitter @CherylAMajor. She is also a full time residential Realtor with Coldwell Banker with more than 25 years experience.
Her new book, “Eat Your Blues Away” in which she chronicles her recovery from depression is now available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback!