Mediterranean Diet for heart health
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
Client name and identifying information changed
When 75-year-old Victor came to me, he had recently left the hospital following a suspected heart attack. While there he had all manner of tests which showed elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, and he was mildly overweight, especially around his belly. Fortunately, he did not have a heart attack, but it gave Victor a scare.
The doctors wanted to put him on medication, but Victor was a stubborn Greek man who said that if it was his time to die then so be it, but he wanted the opportunity to do what he could with his diet to see if things could change. He came to see me because his daughter was a client and we had great success with her treatment.
When we met he was very opinionated about health and wellbeing, saying that he felt doctors only wanted to push drugs onto him. I told him that it wasn’t my place to say whether he should do anything differently, but I honoured his choices to look after his body.
Being of Greek origin he knew all too well about the diets ‘back home’ but had unfortunately slipped into the ways of his new country and drank way too much beer, ate loads of bread, pasta and meat and stopped exercising when he retired. Not that he did much exercise when he worked as a taxi driver, but he did walk for 10-15 mins every chance he could to maintain good circulation in his legs because he was seated for much of the day.
As Victor was Greek, I spoke to him about the famous Mediterranean diet; he sat back and looked up and sighed, knowing that this was what he should do. His elderly parents lived a Mediterranean lifestyle and were apparently still fit and healthy. It didn’t take much to convince Victor to change his diet and way of living. I didn’t need to coach him on what to eat, but I suggested to do more exercise than just lift the TV remote.
So off he went and bought a big tin of extra virgin olive oil, a big jar of olives, some sun-dried tomatoes and re-established his veggie garden. He grew veggies in the front yard and while they were establishing he shopped at his local farmers market. He also bought fresh fish from the local co-operative fish shop and was excited to be on his new diet.
I didn’t see him for a several months, but when he came back he looked great. He had lost quite a bit of weight, especially around his belly and he even had a few muscles developing in his arms from his gardening work. He looked pretty good for a 75-year-old. He had been to his doctor for more tests and his cholesterol and blood pressure were normal.
He brought me a bag of produce from his garden. He was so proud, and I shared with him some of my overgrown basil herb so he could make pesto for the upcoming family gathering on the weekend.