A recent study released this past year comparing the diet recommended by The American heart Association (AHA) and a Mediterranean diet reported these results. Patients using the American Heart Association diet had increased incidence of first heart attack, repeat heart attacks and more deaths than the Mediterranean diet.

The interesting implications and the applications of diet go far beyond just reversing heart disease. Want to feel and look younger, have more energy than you did ten years ago, think more clearly? Then change your diet. The same high fat diet that clogs arteries and causes coronary artery disease is causing other problems throughout the body.

Because fats are not easily digested the organs of digestion and detoxification namely the stomach, intestines, liver, kidneys and the skin are all unduly stressed when we use a poor quality high fat diet. Poor quality fats further strain the body by causing free radical damage.

Here are some of the differences between the two diets. The American Heart Association diet uses more meat (a fat containing food no matter how lean the cut) and fats including margarine, corn and soy oils. The Mediterranean diet uses fresh pressed olive oil almost exclusively yet in larger quantities than is allowed on the AHA diet, less meat two-three servings weekly rather than daily and more fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Mediterranean plant based diet got higher marks in spite of higher fat content because the total saturated fat content and cholesterol was less. Meat use and poor quality hydrogenated oils appears to be biggest difference between the two diets. So regardless of whether you skin the chicken or use cuts of meat with the fat trimmed away you are still getting a hefty dose of saturated fat.

A meat-based diet high in iron is another part of the picture. Iron oxidizes cholesterol into a form that will more likely clog arteries. Too much iron leads to the formation of free radicals that promote cancer and aging as well.

In contrast, a plant-based diet is low in oxidants like iron and high in anti-oxidants like beta-carotene and vitamins A, C and E and is high in fiber. Fiber speeds the metabolism and keeps fats from accumulating where they shouldn’t.

Why olive oil? Unlike corn, soy and canola oils all polysaccharides oil olive oil is a monosaccharide (mono meaning single poly meaning many) and has the simpler chemical structure and therefore easier to digest and assimilate.

If you don’t care for the taste of olive oil you can clarify butter which takes the heavy fat off and leaves an oil that is pleasant tasting and good for you in small amounts. Simply heat the butter on low until the fat and the oil separate. Skim the fat off the top and save the oil.

A heart smart diet is not bland or tasteless; it’s colorful and alive. With the appropriate use of high quality fats, herbs and spices such as the Mediterranean diet eating can be an all new dining experience one you won’t want to miss. Till next time, Rebecca.