Mediterranean diet has much to offer

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We know that healthy diets can definitely be beneficial in lowering LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, which is a major risk factor in causing heart attacks and strokes. In general, the main principle is to avoid saturated fats.

Cholesterol itself is only found in animal fats, so you would think that avoiding animal products would be sufficient to prevent elevated cholesterol. Certainly, it is important to avoid high-fat meats and cheeses. Lunch meats, bacon and similar products should be totally avoided. At the same time, avoiding animal products is insufficient because vegetable products with saturated fats will stimulate the liver to produce cholesterol. So, the amount of cholesterol that is eaten is only one factor in determining blood levels of cholesterol.

A Mediterranean diet appears to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events. These diets are typically high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and include olive oil as an important source of fat. There are typically low to moderate amounts of fish, poultry, dairy products, and red meat is limited to no more than a few times a month. Herbs and spices are used instead of salt to flavor foods.

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There is often red wine in addition to the diet*. Resveratrol is an anti-oxidant especially found in the skin of red grapes. It has not been proven to lower LDL cholesterol but does help prevent cardiovascular disease, probably by other mechanisms (the same is true for dark chocolate). However, even without the wine the Mediterranean diet, particularly including virgin olive oil, seems to be very effective in decreasing heart attacks and strokes.

William Abraham, M.D.

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Dr. William Abraham is board-certified in internal medicine and has more than 30 years of experience. He is a TMC One provider who specializes in same-day/next-day appointments at the Wilmot location.

TMC One Med Group your health your team OL

*Please consult your doctor before changing your diet. Red wine should be enjoyed in moderation.

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