Italian researchers have confirmed that diets rich in leafy green vegetables and olive oil are vital for heart health. Dr. Domenico Palli from the Cancer Research and Prevention Institute in Florence and his colleagues discovered that women who eat at least one serving of leafy greens a day are 46 percent less likely to develop heart disease than women who eat less. And those who consume at least three tablespoons of olive oil a day earn roughly the same benefit.
“Probably the mechanisms responsible for the protective effect of plant-origin foods on cardiovascular diseases involve micronutrients such as folate, antioxidant vitamins and potassium, all present in green leafy vegetables,” explained Palli to Reuters Health, confirming what previous studies on the “Mediterranean Diet” have already found.
Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study collected data from about 30,000 Italian women and tracked their health over the course of eight years. They then correlated cases of heart disease to dietary habits and found that the amount of olive oil and leafy green vegetables consumed is directly correlated to heart health.
Besides improving heart health, eating a diet rich in vegetables and olive oil has been shown to prevent and treat type-2 diabetes, reduce the risk of breast cancer, maintain healthy weight and prevent obesity, prevent and treat prostate cancer, prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, and even lengthen lifespan.
“It appears that the various components of the Mediterranean Diet do promote lower inflammation, oxidative stress, and serum protein levels, which in turn lower risk for vascular problems that can contribute to brain aging — hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke, dyslipidemia, and diabetes,” explain Peter J. Whitehouse and Daniel George in their book The Myth of Alzheimer’s: What You Aren’t Being Told About Today’s Most Dreaded Diagnosis.