By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – For decades, researchers have studied which diet works best for good health. Now a new study shows a twist on the traditional Mediterranean diet may be ideal for heart health.

Thirty-one year old Darren Thomason tries to eat a healthy Mediterranean-style diet with fruits and vegetables and lean protein.

“Fish and some chicken and I try not to eat too much red meat,” Thomason said. “Eating a good diet sort of makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing for my body.”

Now a review of research in the journal of the American College of Cardiology shows a Pesco-Mediterranean diet, which is rich in plants, nuts, whole grains, extra virgin olive oil and emphasizes seafood as the main protein, may be the way to go.

“We have a lot of first level scientific evidence showing that this really makes a difference in your cardiovascular health, in all-cause mortality, in preventing dementia, preventing diabetes and maintaining a healthy weight,” said Dr. James O’Keefe, Preventative Cardiologist at St. Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute.

Dr. O’Keefe authored the research and said intermittent fasting is recommended as part of the diet.

“When you don’t consume calories for at least 12 hours, the inflammation starts going down,” O’Keefe said. “It’s not as hard as it sounds, because when you follow this kind of diet, the low sugar low refined carbohydrates, high vegetable high fat. It changes your hormones around so you’re less hungry and you sleep better.”

Dr. O’Keefe says red wine should be limited to one glass a day for women and up to two for men. And be sure to drink lots of water.

Darren Thomason’s first meal of the day is usually lunch.

“That equates to not eating for about a 15-hour period of time during the day, but that’s not necessarily something I’m deliberately trying to do,” he explained. “I tend to have snacks during the day like vegetables or nuts.”

Dr. O’Keefe says it’s also best to avoid artificial sweeteners and added sugars because they can raise insulin levels.

Dr. Mallika Marshall

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