BEND, OR -- Recent studies show the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke … as well as reduced incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. However, Registered Dietitian Annie Baumann, from Bend Memorial Clinic, tells KBND it’s more important to make lasting changes to your nutrition, instead of getting caught up in a specific diet. "If the Mediterranean diet isn’t one people think they can live with long term, then it might be just a piece of the Mediterranean diet that they take away with them. I might just really try to switch all of my grains from white bread and white rice to whole grain bread and brown rice. Really any change you make to the way you eat needs to be one that you can commit to, forever."
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes plant-based foods, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts and beans. But, Baumann says the most successful changes are made with baby steps. "They don’t have to change every single thing about their diet, they don’t have to give up all their favorite foods. That’s pretty unrealistic for most people. It’s picking one or two things you know you can change and stick with. And, once those are no problem for you anymore, then you pick one or two more things. You still enjoy eating and can enjoy your diet, but that you’ll still get the health benefits you’re looking for."
Baumann also suggests staying away from foods labeled “low-fat,” which often include added salt and sugar. For more on how nutrition and lifestyle impact your heart, listen to Part 2 of our month-long series on Heart Health, available at our Podcast Page