i HEART you

So, did everyone see the big news report that eating a Mediterranean diet decreases the risk of stroke and heart disease by up to 30%? In my opinion, this is great news, because, really, what bad can be said about increasing your consumption of fruit, veggies, fish, olive oil, nuts, and wine? Okay, stay steady with the wine… but even so!

One of the most exciting things about this report was that originally, though observations had shown that people from Mediterranean countries seemed to have lower rates of heart disease, it seemed that many factors could contribute aside from diet. Researchers decided to conclude the study early, after just five years, because the results were already so evident, it seemed “unethical” to continue.

Something I found even more exciting than the heart health revelations came from the New York Times back in the fall — two articles: The Island Where People Forget to Die and Eat Like an Ikarian. Trust me, these are fascinating.

Ikaria, an isolated Greek island on the Aegean Sea, is one of the rare pockets of the world where residents seem to have “extraordinary longevity.” Ikarians are living a long time, and not only that, they are sharp, social, and active until the very end. They grow nearly of the food they consume themselves and eat a typical Mediterranean diet. According to one local in the article, the daily schedule is nearly the same for everyone: Wake naturally, work in the garden, have a late lunch, take a nap. At sunset, they either visited neighbors or neighbors visited them. No one wears a watch and most clocks are wrong. As a result, there is no rushing. Life takes on a leisurely pace.

What I found most spectacular is the focus on community. Everyone eats well, because they are growing their own food, but they really eat well because they sit and savor, socialize, and make an event out of mealtime. It reminds me of one big, local family dinner.

In honor of heart health and delicious eating, I indulged in some of my favorite Mediterranean-approved foods for lunch today: rosemary quinoa, fresh raspberries, and pears over baby spinach, with a balsamic and olive oil drizzle (thanks to one of my favorite food blogs, the Yummy Mummy Cookbook).

Tonight, we’re having friends over for sushi. Surely they love that stuff around Spain and Greece and Italy, too, right?

P.S. If only I had waited another 24-hours to publish yesterday’s post! In my early morning perusings this morning I came across this goosebump-inducing story of a woman and her boyfriend who finished the Rock N Roll New Orleans Half Marathon against tremendous odds.