Cycling Wed Nutrition

Cycling Wed: Eating your way to heart health

I have always been a nutrition agnostic: Eat real food, less of it, and go out and play every day. I wasn’t sure the details mattered that much. Keep it simple.

This view may need updating.

You have probably seen the news: A recent trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, strongly supports the benefits of eating a Mediterranean diet. It was an important contribution to the science of heart disease prevention.

I read the study and its many reviews in mainstream media and came up with a review. Since the study’s findings were so relevant to general health and wellness, I went ahead and published it over on the Courier-Journal site, In the Prime.

I hope you want to read my take: Five reasons to like the Mediterranean diet.


9 replies on “Cycling Wed: Eating your way to heart health”

I clicked on the “Five Reasons to like the Mediterranean Diet” as I decided I would find out what that means. The link didn’t work. I was brought up in an Italian household (Italian last name, guess you figured that out). I never could nail down what the Mediterranean Diet meant as the Italians in the South (where my family is from) is much different than the north and different than some other countries. We ate pretty simple at home. I haven’t strayed much from that diet. I like what I call “poor people” food. Simple. This is what I eat. Probably it would seem boring to many people, as the Italian seasonings, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic are used alot. Anyway, the below is the basic diet for me. I didn’t really see much of a definition in Wiki, or much difference.

Olive oil, no butter.
No milk, moderate cheese.
Fish and chicken (turkey sometimes). Salmon is the usually choice of fish. I love blue mussels, but don’t get them often. Usually if we go out to eat. Olive oil and garlic or tomato sauce with hot pepper.
No red meat (maybe 3-4 times a year if I’m at a barbeque)
Fruit and vegetables all day. Apples, bananas, pears usually. No chocolate, sugar, dessert (ever).
Tomatoes, spinach, dark lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
No eggs (eggbeaters if I am out with people)
Cereal (only the healthy stuff)
Beans (white, red, black)
Barley, lentils, and nuts (seldom)
Pasta and bread (multigrain or rye only). I try to keep these to a minimum, but it is hard to stop with the pasta.
Used to drink red wine. Not on the afib diet.

Pete, I too suffer from (occasional) afib. I have recently seen non-alcoholic Cabernet Sauvignon recommended as containing far more anti-oxydants than “real” wine. I am now drinking it regularly. IMO it is surprisingly palatable, and very very cheap. And no problems with drunk driving!

I forgot the berries of various types (blueberries, blackberries, sometimes raspberries). Expensive but good.

It’s confusing to everyone, I’ll have to say. Being an early advocate of the ‘theory’ of Dean Ornish and finding the plan impossible in American lifestyle. Then abusing myself because I didin’t have the fortitude or self-discipline to do it all the way (exercise, meditation, diet) despite the PET scans even in those early days showing the improvement. All the way thru vegetarian, vegan, THE HELL WITH IT DIET (oh, you haven’t heard about that one, have you?) Then my nursing school, NP school, and then my CABG!
Now reading Caldwell Esselstyn who has PET scans to show amazing improvement of reversal of cardiac blood flow issues from vegan eating from hundreds if not thousands of patients!
I say again, it’s so hard to know what to believe, and what to do. I’m a medical provider, I’m educated, I think I’m a good early adopter of many things………………….but this is the hardest thing I’ve ever been so ambiguous about! No doubt about it.
Maybe it’s because eating can be one of the great pleasures of life – – and giving up a pleasure for a longer life – – now that’s a delima. You know, living longer, enjoying it less!

I have been impressed Dean Ornish’s book “the Spectrum” and I was convinced by his attack on this research here:
He claims that the control cohort only reduced their fat intake from 39 to 37% – both high – and were encouraged to replace fat with unhealthy carbs, continue drinking sodas and avoid sources of omega 3, notably oily fish. Unlike the Mediterranean diet cohort, the “low fat” cohort were given no support for the first two years of the study. It is well known that support enables people to change, whether they are giving up smoking, learning to read or adopting a healthy diet.

What I would like to see compared is two versions of the Mediterranean diet – healthy eating with low fat and restricted calories as advocated by Ornish versus healthy eating with unrestricted fat and calories as undertaken in this study. Meanwhile, I shall continue with the former (adding in a few extra almonds!).

It’s not fair to say the control group were encouraged to drink soda; rather, they just weren’t given much direction at all. This shouldn’t be seen as a trial involving two active comparators (Med vs. genuinely low-fat) but as a trial comparing a group that gets an intervention to a group that doesn’t get it (so, just keeps eating the Western diet and pounding pills). Ornish also has published studies showing that people on his program do much better than people left alone to do what Americans [are trained to think they] prefer to do.

has anyone mentioned the concerns re: seafood & mercury? It is difficult to know what to eat these days.

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