According to a new study, adhering to the Mediterranean diet, which emphasises a diet high in healthy fats, vegetables, and lean meats, can improve heart health, particularly in women.
A plant-based diet may cut a woman's risk of heart disease and mortality by 25%, according to a study published in the journal Heart Tuesday.
According to the Trusted Source, heart disease causes over one-third of all deaths in women, although the bulk of research trials testing a healthy diet as a preventative technique have mostly been undertaken in males.
This is the first study to look at the link between heart disease risk and the Mediterranean diet in women.
While current heart disease preventive advice is the same for both men and women, the researchers expect their findings will help better inform activities that women, in particular, should take to reduce their risk of heart disease.
"Although much has been known about the benefits of a Mediterranean diet, it's powerful to see the strong benefit that women may gain from this dietary pattern," said Dr. Sabrina Islam, MPH, an assistant professor of medicine at Temple University and a cardiologist at Temple University Hospital.
The Mediterranean diet has been shown to drastically reduce the risk of heart disease
The researchers examined 16 studies published between 2003 and 2021 that assessed the cardiovascular benefits of the Mediterranean diet.
The trials involved almost 700,000 women whose heart health was tracked for an average of 12.5 years.
The Mediterranean diet was linked to a 24% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and a 23% lower risk of mortality from any cause in women, according to the researchers.
Women who followed the Mediterranean diet had a modestly decreased risk of stroke and had a 25% lower risk of coronary heart disease.
The researchers anticipate that their findings will spur future study into sex-specific treatment guidelines to improve women's heart health.
According to Dr. Wafi Momin, a cardiologist at UTHealth Houston Heart & Vascular and Memorial Hermann, heart disease is the top cause of death worldwide, yet it is under-recognized and possibly under-treated in women.
"It is critical for women to focus on heart health in order to help avoid cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke," Momin added.
Why is the Mediterranean diet so good for your heart?
A healthy diet is regarded as one of the most effective methods of preventing cardiovascular disease.
The Mediterranean diet, in particular, is routinely associated with a decreased risk of heart disease.
The antioxidant qualities of the food, as well as the microbiome impacts, serve to decrease inflammation throughout the body.
"Inflammation is a process that may cause chaos in the body and, most significantly from a cardiac viewpoint, increase the formation of plaque in our blood vessels, which can lead to heart disease such as atherosclerotic coronary disease," Momin explained.
Polyphenols, which may preserve the lining of the heart and blood vessels, improve cholesterol levels, and stimulate anti-platelet action, are also abundant in the diet.
The Mediterranean diet also includes nitrates, which enlarge blood arteries and enhance blood flow.
In addition, the diet has a reduced glycemic load, which has been associated to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Finally, the Mediterranean diet is high in omega-3 fats and plant-based fibre, which help decrease bad cholesterol and prevent plaque accumulation in the arteries.
"A low-fat, low-sugar, high-fiber diet paired with a moderate consumption of nutritious proteins helps to maintain a good metabolic profile, which can minimise the development of cardiovascular disease," Islam explained.
Guidelines for Adhering to the Mediterranean Diet
Plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and extra-virgin olive oil are central to the Mediterranean diet.
Momin claims that the majority of people currently consume the bulk of the items recommended by the Mediterranean diet.
"It's just a question of eating more veggies, fruits, and grains," Momin explains.
Islam suggests substituting fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy monounsaturated fats, and seafood for processed meals and saturated fats.
She also recommends reducing added sweets and red meats, as well as consuming a couple meals of seafood each week.
Dietary changes can be an effective approach to avoid heart disease, and as more people become aware of the heart-healthy benefits of the Mediterranean diet, more women will hopefully be able to reduce their risk of heart disease.
"We can affect the degree of heart disease in women by continuing initiatives to promote awareness of the danger of heart disease in women, as well as research like this to expand understanding on actionable preventative strategies," Islam added.
According to another study, the Mediterranean diet can improve heart health, particularly among women. According to the study, which is the first to look at how a plant-based diet affects women's risk of cardiovascular disease, the Mediterranean diet can lower risk.
Mediterranean Diet Can Decrease A Woman's Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease By 25%
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