Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorFor years we’ve been hearing about how switching to a Mediterranean way of eating would make us healthier and add years to our lives.

But that advice was based on a lot of speculation and observation — yet now there is some solid scientific evidence that a little more olive oil, a few more nuts, and some sips of wine may really help a lot better than, say, a statin drug to improve your heart health.

Researchers followed more than 7,500 people, ages 55 and older, for a 5 year period. Those who went more Mediterranean had a 30 percent lower risk of heart attack or stroke.

Now what makes this study so good is that most diet studies ask people if they are following the menu — this study actually used blood tests to monitor levels of certain chemicals to ensure that participants were actually eating what they said they were.

And not only was this diet heart and brain healthy, people who followed it lost weight, and had little problem following the diet since it wasn’t very strict very few dropped out.

So whats did these folks do? Consumed the equivalent of 4 tablespoons of olive oil each day (salads, etc) plus ate about a handful of nuts.

Overall, Mediterranean meant lots of fruits, fish, chicken, beans, tomato sauces, salads and wine (not only red, btw.)

Researchers don’t claim this diet is  better than every other, say a super low-fat diet, but it is easier to follow, and as long as you are saying no to pastries, baked goods, and other junk, this diet is better than what 90 percent of Americans are eating right now.

You certainly don’t need to jump into it and be a total instant convert, but a slow, gradual ease into a new way of eating may help you live longer, and be healthier as you tack on those extra years.


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