Harvard Heart Letter

Mediterranean diet: Good for your mind and your heart

Plant-based compounds known as polyphenols are plentiful in the Mediterranean diet, which may explain its health benefits.
Image: Thinkstock

Extra-virgin olive oil and nuts seem to contribute to the benefits.

Looking for a diet that may protect your heart and blood vessels? The Mediterranean diet is hard to beat. Over the past several years, findings from a landmark clinical trial in Spain have suggested that this plant-based diet—enhanced with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts—lowers the risk of a heart attack, stroke, and death from heart disease. It even appears to lower the odds of atrial fibrillation (a heart rhythm disorder) and peripheral artery disease (a condition in which fatty plaque clogs arteries throughout the body). Now, new data suggest that the diet is also good for your mind.

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