A diet known as pesco-Mediterranean — if combined with time-restricted eating — is ideal for improving cardiovascular health, a study suggests.
The diet is primarily based on vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, whole grains, legumes, fermented dairy, fish, seafood, and extra-virgin olive oil.
The choice of drinks is limited to only water, tea, and coffee.
To reduce daily caloric intake, an intermittent fasting period is recommended for 12 to 16 hours per day.
National guidelines approve the traditional Mediterranean diet since studies have been found that it reduces the odds of cognitive decline, cancers, depression, diabetes, and heart disease.
The typical Mediterranean foods include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, olives, eggs, yogurt, cheese, fish, and seafood.
Dr James H. O’Keefe, the study’s first author, said:
“Although humans are omnivores and can subsist on a myriad of foods, the ideal diet for health remains a dilemma for many people.
Plant-rich diets reduce cardiovascular disease risk; however, veganism are difficult to follow and can result in important nutrient deficiencies.
On the other hand, many people in modern Western cultures over-consume meat, particularly highly processed meat from animals raised in inhuman conditions.
We propose the Pesco-Mediterranean diet as a solution to this ‘omnivore’s dilemma’ about what to eat.”
Fish and seafood are the main sources of protein in a pescatarian diet.
Also, many dietary guidelines replace fish with red meat and poultry at minimum twice per week.
A review found that a pescatarian diet compared to a regular meat-eating diet reduced coronary artery disease death by 34 percent.
The other food that a Mediterranean diet uses is extra-virgin olive oil instead of vegetable oils and butter.
Extra-virgin olive oil is unrefined and high in polyphenol antioxidants and has been shown to improve the levels of “good” cholesterol and lower “bad” cholesterol.
Tree nuts are also part of this diet, as they provide fibre and healthy fats.
A clinical trial showed that mixed nuts when severed daily led to a 28 percent reduction in heart disease risk.
Dr O’Keefe said:
“There is no clear consensus among nutrition experts on the role of dairy products and eggs in heart disease risk, however we allowed for them in the Peso-Mediterranean diet.
Low-fat yogurt and cheeses are preferred; butter and hard cheese are discouraged due to a high concentration of saturated fats and salt.
Eggs contain beneficial nutrients and can be a healthy substitute for red meat; however, we recommend no more than five yolks be consumed per week.”
Time-restricted eating or intermittent fasting helps people eating less throughout the day.
This results in weight loss as it lowers inflammation and improves insulin response by making the body burn belly fat instead of using glucose.
This type of intermittent fasting is usually restricted to two meals a day with limited calorie intake in a period between 8 to 12 hours.
Dr O’Keefe said:
“Our ancient ancestors did not have access to an unlimited supply of food throughout the year.
Nor did they routinely eat three large meals, plus snacks, daily.
Focusing on fresh whole foods, along with fish, bestows a range of health benefits, particularly when it comes to cardiovascular health.
The Pesco-Mediterranean diet with daily time-restricted eating is an ideal cardioprotective diet.”
The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (O’Keefe et al., 2020).