If you've ever tried a buzzworthy diet, you know the effects can be anything but long lasting—but not when it comes to a Mediterranean Diet plan, says new research published in Microvascular Research.
According to the study, incorporating foods like olive oil, fruit, veggies, salad, fish, legumes, and whole grains (items that are a part of traditional Mediterranean cuisine) and increasing your level of exercise over an eight-week period offered benefits that were still seen a year after stopping the regimen.
What kind of benefits, you ask? The Mediterranean Diet plan and exercise combo improved blood flow in the endothelial cells, which line the interior of our entire vascular system. (Improvements in endothelial cell function can help decrease the risk of developing heart disease.)
"A diet high in essential oils (from fish, olive oil, nuts), legumes, fruits, vegetables and whole-grains (and a glass of red wine!) is positive for vascular health, even if you follow it for a relatively short period of time," says Geoff Middleton, senior lecturer in the school of sport and exercise science at the University of Lincoln, and coauthor of the study. Moving away from a diet high in trans fats and refined sugar helps, too, he adds.
The takeaway: While it's not easy to follow a healthy diet 100% of the time (why must cookies be so delicious?), it's okay to fall off the horse from time to time. Just get back on—and remember that the effects of a well-balanced diet and exercise plan will benefit you in the long run.