Combining two popular diets — intermittent fasting and the Mediterranean diet — may be the most effective protocol for reducing one’s risk of developing a large number of health issues, according to new research published by the American College of Cardiology. Both diets have been separately linked to a number of potential health benefits; combining them may reduce inflammation, protect cognition, and more.
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Many diet choices
A number of public health organizations and agencies recommend plant-based and Mediterranean diets to help protect one’s health, particularly when it comes to preventing heart disease. Similarly, past research on intermittent fasting has linked it to certain beneficial effects, including delaying aging and reducing weight.
When it comes to the best overall diet for protecting one’s health, many questions remain. Should one entirely remove animal products from their diet? Just meat? Or is it important to eat some animal products to avoid micronutrient deficiencies?
The Journal of the American College of Cardiology has published a new cumulative review of existing data and found that combining a modified Mediterranean diet called Pesco-Mediterranean with intermittent fasting may be the best way to protect one’s health in the long term.
Modifying the most popular option
A Pesco-Mediterranean diet places a focus on extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) in the place of other fats, including butter. This unrefined olive oil — assuming you get an authentic product — is known to promote health in a number of ways, particularly heart and brain health. As well, this modified diet includes tree nuts for other healthy fat, plus fish and seafood for protein, legumes, olives, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains.
Trickier is the question over eggs and dairy — experts still can’t agree on whether these two food products help or harm health. In this case, the researchers noted that eggs and dairy can be included in the modified diet within reason. Eggs should be limited to no more than five yolks per week; dairy should be limited to low-fat options, while butter and hard cheeses should ideally be avoided.
A dash of fasting
As for intermittent fasting, this diet protocol involves abstaining from food for a certain number of hours, limiting one’s eating window to a specific timeframe.
The new study’s lead author James H. O’Keefe, MD, explained:
Our ancient ancestors did not have access to an unlimited supply of food throughout the year. Nor did they routinely eat three large meals, plus snacks, daily. Focusing on fresh whole foods, along with fish, bestows a range of health benefits, particularly when it comes to cardiovascular health. The Pesco-Mediterranean diet with daily time-restricted eating is an ideal cardioprotective diet.
Combining the Pesco-Mediterranean diet with intermittent fasting may, based on a number of past studies and trials, lower the risk of cognitive decline, heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and depression.