The New England Journal of Medicine Mediterranean Diet Study published online Feb 25, 2013 proves diet plays a key role in preventing heart disease. This shouldn’t be anything super newsworthy, except that it is one of only a very few high quality diet studies that was prospective and randomized and the first major clinical trial to measure the incredible cardio-protective and anti-inflammatory effects of a plant-rich diet containing fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, olive oil and regular fish and wine consumption with meals. The diet outlined in the newly-released book Clean Cuisine: An 8-Week Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition Program that Will Change the Way You Age, Look & Feel (Penguin-Berkley Hardcover, Feb 2013) mirrors the same modified Mediterranean diet published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The New England Journal of Medicine study was compared head to head against a low-fat diet and was ended early, after almost five years, because the results were so clear it was considered unethical to continue. Participants who adhered to the modified Mediterranean diet dramatically reduced their risk of heart attack, strokes and deaths from heart disease. “The study proves that counting food in the form of calories, carbohydrates, fat and so on is not the way to go. Instead of encouraging people to count their food or eat a low fat diet, people should be encouraged to make their food count nutritionally, which means eating a more plant-forward whole foods diet rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants,” says Andrew Larson, MD, a weight loss surgeon and co-author of Clean Cuisine. “One thing that really stood out about the New England Journal of Medicine study is that it showed you do not need to go to extremes to enjoy good health---you don’t need to eat low fat, you don’t need to eliminate wine, you don’t need to be a vegan, you simply need to eat a more plant-rich diet based on unrefined whole foods,” says Ivy Larson, co-author of Clean Cuisine. “Compliance is a huge factor in whether or not a diet will actually work long-term. I have been following the Clean Cuisine diet—which is basically the same thing as the modified Mediterranean diet published in the New England Journal of Medicine study---for almost 15 years, ever since I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998, and I know as a patient that if the diet is too strict or the food doesn’t taste good it is not going to be a reasonable long-term approach.” Clean Cuisine is different from other “diets” out there because it really does place equal emphasis on nutrition and taste; it is strict only when and where it counts most. The New England Journal of Medicine Mediterranean diet and Clean Cuisine approach not only offer protection against heart disease but also from a wide range of inflammatory conditions (multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, arthritis, asthma, endometriosis, etc.) affecting millions of Americans. The diet that tastes good, is easy to follow and helps you live longer and enjoy life more is one and the same.