The well-known pyramid of the Mediterranean diet is one that I often use in my cooking classes and talks. Even if some people shy away from the idea of meatless meals, most have heard that the elements of a Mediterranean diet are much healthier for your heart.
Finally, on February 25, 2013, a study published on the website of The New England Journal of Medicine confirms that a diet rich in olive oil, nuts, legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables, and fish can help prevent heart disease and strokes. I feel lucky that I grew up liking all of these foods (since my dear mom is Sicilian), and always felt sorry for my wonderful Hungarian dad who resisted pasta and other Italian dishes and craved beef, sausage, bacon, and lots of sour cream and butter in his diet.
I can vividly remember my dad frying hot dogs in butter for lunch one Saturday with no thought to what it was doing to his heart. Unfortunately, I think that his diet was one of the big reasons that my dad died of a heart attack at 47.
As those of you have read my book know, my dad’s death when I was 19 really shook me up and caused me to make some major changes in my diet and lifestyle. It is so heartening to know that there is now solid clinical research that validates the benefits of the foods that have long been a part of traditional Mediterranean diets. Even if you aren’t interested in making the switch to meatless meals, please consider adopting some of the principals of the Mediterranean diet to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.