There’s no shortage of ridiculously complicated new fad diets on the market. You know, the ones that are hard to follow (who can keep the rules straight?), not to mention sustain, and usually involve buying a pricey book. That’s why it’s so refreshing to be reminded of that heart-healthy diet at once simple, affordable, and satisfying. In a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the Mediterranean diet, admittedly one of our old faves, was found to reduce risk of heart attack and stroke by 30 percent.

Part of a multi-center trial, the research was completed between 2003 and 2011 and analyzed the diet’s role in preventing heart disease. In it, 7,447 people with heart disease risk factors ate a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, one supplemented with nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts), or a low-fat animal and vegetable diet. Participants attended dietary training sessions, visited with dieticians every three months, and were provided shopping lists and menus.

After five years, those on either Mediterranean diet showed substantially reduced heart-attack and stroke risk compared to those on the low-fat diet. According to researchers, the study proves that a high-vegetable diet is heart healthier than a low-fat diet. Past studies have linked Mediterranean-style eating with reduced cancer incidence and lower  LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

Why do we love this diet so? Well, it’s really nothing of the sort. The word diet just sounds so punishing, no? It reeks of restriction. But going Mediterranean is about choosing a healthier way to live. The trickiest part is keeping the pantry stocked with fresh produce. It’s a lifestyle approach, meaning, along with promoting certain foods, it also requires regular exercise and emphasizes savoring meals leisurely with loved ones, typically with a hearty glass of red wine.

Mediterranean-Style Eating:

* Avoid processed foods and eat fresh, seasonal whole foods–mostly those plant-based (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes, or lentils, beans, and peas)

* Eat fish, seafood, and poultry at least twice weekly

* Replace butter with healthy fats like EVOO

* Avoid red meat and sweets

* Eat yogurt, cheese, and eggs moderately

* Use simple cooking methods (no deep frying)

* Replace salt with: Fresh lemon, garlic, basil, oregano, rosemary, mint

Hands down, the Mediterranean approach to living is our favorite. We’re not alone. U.S. New and World Report ranked it third best diet overall in its listing of 29. We’re not big on restricting ourselves from all the deliciousness life has to offer. We don’t want you to miss out either! Find recipe ideas here, here, and here.

Are You with us?