Mediterranean Diet: Heart Healthy and Preventing Cancer

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-basil-nuts-olive-oil-bunch-fresh-bowl-walnuts-pepper-garlic-glass-bottle-served-white-wooden-table-see-series-image36664137If you’ve been trying to boost your heart health by eating a Mediterranean diet filled with olive oil, vegetables and nuts, and foregoing red and processed meat, a new report says you also may be lowering your risk for cancer and type 2 diabetes, all without losing weight.

A report of studies from PREDIMED, a large nutrition intervention trial, was published in the May issue of Advances in Nutrition. One study found that after almost 5 years, Mediterranean diet participants had 30% less cardiovascular disease than the control group. Another study found the Mediterranean diet groups had less type 2 diabetes, showed improvements in conditions of metabolic syndrome and had lower levels of markers for inflammation, all risk factors for cancer.

The Mediterranean diet, promoted as heart healthy, is rich in plant foods (such as vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts), olive oil, moderate amounts of fish, yogurt, cheese, poultry and red wine, but little red and processed meats and sweets. In the PREDIMED study, researchers randomly assigned about 7500 participants to one of three groups: a Mediterranean diet (MeDiet) supplemented with olive oil, a MeDiet supplemented with nuts or they were instructed to follow a low fat diet. The PREDIMED study is a randomized, nutritional intervention trial conducted in Spain from 2003 to 2011. Continue reading


A Kid-Pleasing, Crowd-Pleasing Salad

With only six ingredients, Health-e-Recipe for Colorful Southwestern Black Bean Salad gets high marks in all categories: it’s easy and quick to prepare, filling, healthy, cancer-preventive and delicious.Colorful Southwest Bean Salad2 cropped DSC_9928 copy 3

The 5 grams of cancer-fighting dietary fiber in each serving come from the vegetables and black beans, all rich in phytochemicals. A little olive oil and tomato salsa spread a piquant flavor  throughout this yummy salad. Serve it in a brightly colored bowl.

Kids like it too, as proven in our supermarket taste test this Spring, where AICR staff and Super Kids Nutrition originator Melissa Halas Liang, RD (right in photo below), dished out portions to delighted children and parents as part of our HealthMHL mom and kid cropped brushed smy Kids Today – Prevent Cancer Tomorrow campaign.

At only 125 calories per serving, you can add a half-cup of brown rice or a 6-inch whole-wheat tortilla to make it a healthy lunch. Eat another vegetable with it and have a piece of fresh fruit for dessert to round it into a meal.

Visit the AICR Test Kitchen for more cancer-fighting recipes. Subscribe to our weekly Health-e-Recipe.


Green Inside and Out

While you revel in green things outdoors, put some green inside you, too. This week’s Health-e-Recipe for Simple Leafy Green Saute is so tasty that greens I once found a little scary (like giant chard leaves) have become edible things of beauty.

Greens are an amazing font of cancer-fighting phytochemicals. Kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, mustard greens and watercress all belong to the cruciferous family that broccoli comes from. And most of them are easy on a budget, too.

This recipe tells you how to preparing them well so you can enjoy them with gusto. All it takes is a simple mix of garlic and onion plus extra-virgin olive oil (which tends to taste better than regular). In a covered pan, your greens absorb those delicious flavors as they cook for only 6-10 minutes. That’s enough time to tame their strong taste. With just a pinch of salt stirred in, the result is divine.

You can use our suggestions for pairing these greens with eggs, broth, whole-grain pasta or chickpeas. Or just mix in a tablespoon of finely chopped walnuts or dried cranberries.

For more excellent recipes, visit the AICR Test Kitchen. Click here to subscribe to our weekly Health-e-Recipe.

(Photo copyright fotolia.)