March 10, 2015

Cut Your Risk for Heart Disease in Half

Heart disease is responsible for one in every four deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That translates to 610,000 deaths, and it's a major red flag that we need solutions, fast. Fortunately, the solution might be what you put on your dinner table. Adopting a Mediterranean diet has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease by 47 percent, according to Greek researchers.
"Our study shows that the Mediterranean diet is a beneficial intervention for all types of people—in both genders, in all age groups, and in both healthy people and those with health conditions," said Ekavi Georgousopoulou, a PhD candidate at Harokopio University in Athens, Greece. "It also reveals that the Mediterranean diet has direct benefits for heart health, in addition to its indirect benefits in managing diabetes, hypertension, and inflammation."
Previous studies have also shown that a Mediterranean diet can reverse metabolic syndrome. 
Surveying 2,500 Greek adults with a 10-year follow-up, the researchers discovered that each one-point increase in dietary score (meaning stricter adherence to the Mediterranean diet), let do a 3 percent drop in heart disease risk, regardless of family history or smoking habits.
Some of the main characteristics of the Mediterannean diet inclue eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, olive oil, and red wine (in moderation).
This may explain why the Greek island of Ikaria, nicknamed "the island where people forget to die," has half the rate of heart disease as Americans. Diane Kochalis, author of Ikaria explains that citizens of this isolated island eat the textbook Mediterranean diet. "Essentially, Ikaria's longevity diet is the Mediterranean diet of half a century ago, tailored to what was available locally and defined more by the struggle to procure food than by any contemporary sense of abundance," she says. 
For a truly Ikarian experience try making your own Kathoura, or Ikarian Goat's Milk Cheese. "Kathoura, the local Ikarian cheese, is always made with goat's milk and yet is surprisingly mild, especially in comparison to the strong caprine aromas of American goat cheeses," says Kochalis. "You can eat it fresh, as in hours old or a day or two old; you can salt it and dry it so that it dehydrates and hardens, and you can take it at that stage and preserve it either in olive oil or a 10 percent salt brine." 
 3 quarts unpasteurized goat’s milk
¼ teaspoon powdered animal rennet
Coarse salt, preferably sea salt
Special Tools:
10- or 12-quart stainless steel pot
A dairy thermometer
Fine-weave cheesecloth
1. Measure out ¼ cup of the milk and set aside. Pour the remaining milk into the stainless steel pot and bring to a boil. As soon as the milk boils, turn off the heat. Cover the pot with a clean kitchen towel and let the milk cool to tepid, about 98°F (37°C).
2. Dissolve the rennet in the reserved ¼ cup milk. Pour it into the tepid milk and stir with a clean stainless steel spoon. Season with 1 tablespoon salt.
3. Cover the pot again with a clean cloth and let it stand until the rennet coagulates the milk, anywhere from 1 to 4 hours, depending on the outside temperature. The cheese mass will look a little like Greek yogurt.
4. Remove the cloth. Cut the cheese mass into small curds using a sharp, clean knife. Resalt to taste. Heat it over low flame until the whey separates from the mass.
5. Line a large fine-mesh sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the separated curds to the cheesecloth. Gather up the corners of the cheesecloth, joining two and two on each side, almost like folding a sheet. Tie the corners together to form a double knot. The end result should look like a beggar’s purse. Hang this over a bowl in the sink, bathtub, or outdoors overnight, to drain. Discard the whey.
The next day, unwrap the cheese and rub it with a little salt. Let it sit for 1 hour in the refrigerator before serving. The cheese will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator. If the exterior gets a little wet, rub it with coarse salt.

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