When the seriously fit celebrity trainer Bob Harper suffered a heart attack a few weeks ago, I was just as shocked as most of the world. He works out for a living—the man’s muscles have muscles—not to mention the fact that he’s only 51 years old. But, heart disease runs in his family and genetics are a huge risk factor when it comes to heart health. The good news, Harper is recovering nicely if his Instagram feed is any indication. The avid cross-fitter has taken a less stressful and doctor-recommended approach to exercise. He’s walking his dog in the park and performing a stress test with his medical team rather than hitting the gym hard (yet). The other key part of his recovery? His diet. Harper’s doctors recommended he eat a Mediterranean-style diet. So what’s he eating to keep his heart healthy?
Photo credit: instagram.com/trainerbob
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes healthy whole grains, vegetables, fruits, seafood and healthy fats, plus the occasional glass of heart-healthy red wine. The health benefits of following a Mediterranean-style diet include improved weight loss, better control of blood glucose (sugar) levels and reduced risk of depression. Eating a Mediterranean diet has also been associated with reduced levels of inflammation, a risk factor for heart attack, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. Not to mention, the Mediterranean diet is delicious and flavorful.
Whole grains contain heart-healthy fiber. Fish, like salmon, gives you healthy omega-3 fats. Vegetables and fruits are a good source of fiber and nutrients. And using olive oil increases mono-unsaturated fats in your diet which help raise your “good” HDL cholesterol. Plus, this way of eating is naturally low in added sugars, something most of us get too much of from processed foods and sweets. The American Heart Association recommended no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day for women, and no more than 9 teaspoons daily for men. What else can you do to keep your heart healthy?
Related: 7-Day Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan
While we can’t do anything about our genetics, half of the heart disease deaths in the U.S. are preventable according to research from Emory University. The leading risk factors we can control are obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking.
We’re wishing Bob Harper a safe and speedy recovery and are hopeful that his health scare inspires others to eat better, exercise and take care of their hearts.
Watch: How to Eat Mediterranean for a Day
Healthy Mediterranean Diet Recipes
8 Easy Ways to Follow the Mediterranean Diet
How to Make Mediterranean Inspired Tuna Salad
Lisa Valente, M.S., R.D., Food News Blog, Diet, Food & health news, Nutrition