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https://chiropracticandmassage.biz/articles/mediterraneandiet.html~~Mediterranean Diet: A weapon in the fight against heart disease

By Lynne’ Schatzlein, RDN 6 a.m.Feb. 6, 2014

This column is written by experts in the medical field and provides advice on men’s and women’s health issues.

When it comes to women and heart disease, the startling facts seem countless. Eight million women in America live with cardiovascular disease. That’s one in every four. Heart disease claims the lives of half a million women every year. That’s approximately one death each minute more than all types of cancer combined. Perhaps the most shocking statistic is that among all women who die from heart disease, 64 percent had no symptoms. It’s clear why cardiovascular disease is called the silent killer.

For decades, medical experts all over the world have performed research that has led to better understanding of causes and symptoms, as well as the development of new treatments. It’s through this vital research that we’ve been able to identify the effects nutrition has on heart disease. We know that saturated and trans fats cause cholesterol to build up in arteries and cause blockages, which can lead to heart attack and stroke, and that sodium contributes to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease. We also know that a plant-based diet and eating foods that are high in antioxidants and fiber, such as fish, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, protect the heart by reducing blood pressure and cholesterol, and by preventing oxidative damage to the heart and blood vessels.

Recently, research has led to the determination that among all the recommended eating plans, the best for heart health is the Mediterranean diet. Named for incorporating foods typically enjoyed by people who live in Greece, Spain and southern Italy, the Mediterranean diet includes fruits, vegetables and whole grains at every meal, plus extra-virgin olive oil, fish twice a week, a handful of nuts each day and a small serving of red wine a couple of times a week. An analysis of more than 1.5 million adults showed that following a Mediterranean diet contributed to a lowered risk of death from heart disease and cancer, as well as a reduced incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

It may seem contradictory that fat both raises and lowers the risk for heart disease, but there’s a key difference: The Mediterranean diet encourages consumption of monounsaturated fats, the kind found in foods like avocado and nuts which are not only good for the heart but also the skin. The Mediterranean diet also suggests using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor food, limiting red meat consumption to a few times a month, and replacing butter with healthy alternatives like olive oil.

One of the best things about the Mediterranean diet is that it can be enjoyed by the entire family, even kids, so special, separate meals aren’t necessary. There are many excellent recipes that feature delicious, Mediterranean-style ingredients.

Lynne’ Schatzlein, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in cardiovascular care at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center.
Lynne’ Schatzlein, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in cardiovascular care at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center

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