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February 06, 2019

The Mediterranean Diet, rich in olive oil, vegetables, and plant proteins, is a great ally for heart health

Following proper dietary guidelines has shown to be especially useful in preventing some of the most common health issues today.

The Mediterranean Diet shines on the stage of science-backed dietary guidelines: it is the most researched model for healthy eating. This year, the Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives Conference will focus on the cardioprotective effect of the Mediterranean Diet, and has called on the expertise of Dr. Miguel Ángel Martínez-Gonzalez. The Spanish professor and chair, Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Navarra Medical School (Spain) and visiting scholar at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health held a workshop titled “Mediterranean Diet and Cardiovascular Health: From Research to Culinary Strategy”, in which he reviewed the main evidence in support of this dietary pattern. “The PREDIMED study has categorically demonstrated that following this dietary pattern, rich in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and nuts, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by around 30%.” During his presentation, Dr. Martínez-Gonzalez stressed the important role that healthy fats play in this diet, especially extra virgin olive oil. “Its consumption has well-documented antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial effects.” He also discussed the myth in the medical community that all fats are unhealthy: “We must change this paradigm. Now we know that there are good fats and bad fats. And olive oils contribute to a better quality of life. That is indisputable.”

The workshop attendees were encouraged to embrace this aspect of this thousand-year-old diet.  Chef Daniel Olivella from Spain, prepared several dishes using extra virgin olive oil as a base. He explained why extra virgin olive oils work so well in for sautéing and in stews (due to its high smoke point). He also created several dishes for the attendees, such as pickled tuna and chicken, samfaina (vegetable ragout from Catalonia), vegetable paella, and black rice with aioli. Healthy, delicious recipes.

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