You know your diet impacts your health, and you know you should follow a healthy diet. Those recommendations can vary significantly, but much of the common advice shares a theme. We often hear we should be eating mostly plant-based foods, healthy oils, legumes, fish, and whole grains, which is what many call the Mediterranean diet. The Mayo Clinic has called this popular diet the “heart-healthy eating plan.” And there’s a good reason for that.
Consuming too few of these commonly recommended foods can lead to serious health problems. A recent paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) says that opposing this advice is one of the leading causes of cardiometabolic disease (CMD).
Listen up, dudes. There’s a reason you hear this advice repeated so often. This diet change affects men more often than women.
Of course there are plenty of ways to eat healthy and steer clear of CMD, but the list of its contributing factors is nearly opposite of the Mediterranean diet. The paper lists high sodium intake, too few nuts/seeds, high processed meats, not enough seafood and Omega-3s, too many sugary drinks, and not enough fruits and vegetables. It’s no wonder why the research has shown the Mediterranean diet can reduce heart disease.
The worst contributing factor is an excessive intake of sodium. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. That’s about one teaspoon of table salt. And really, for most adults, the AHA strongly recommends no more than 1,500 mg per day. That’s only about 2/3 teaspoon table salt.
So, yes, you’ve probably heard this again and again, but that’s only because this is a serious, potentially life-or-death matter. In an interview, one of the study’s authors makes a point to say that it’s not just the addition of junk food that contributes to unhealthy lifestyles; it’s the overall absence of nutritious foods from so many of our daily lives. With so much focus on health in general right now, it’s a good time to challenge yourself to work as many healthy foods into your diet as you can. And that fits right in with our mindset here — focus on the good stuff you get to add to your daily eats rather than just what you need to eliminate!
Need some inspiration to get started? Check out this Mediterranean-inspired dinner for busy people.
Will you consider this advice to keep your heart healthy? —Megan