SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — If you drive by St. Joseph’s Health this month, you’ll see it lit up in red. The hospital is putting the spotlight on heart health.

Cardiologist Nelly Kazzaz puts a focus on it year-round, encouraging people to try something that time and time again, improves heart and brain health.

It’s the Mediterranean diet. If you ask Kazzaz, she’ll tell you it’s nutritious, flexible, and it works.

“It’s proven to give us a longer, healthier life.”

dr. nelly kazzaz

Kazzaz recommends this to her patients because she says the best way to handle heart disease is to prevent it from the start.

“Our eating habits affect our weight, it affects our cholesterol levels, it affects our blood sugars,” Kazzaz said.

All those numbers impact our heart and its health.

The thing is, diets often don’t work long-term. So, why does this? Well, it’s a lifestyle change, not a weight loss program.

“It’s not about our dress size, it’s about our health benefits,” said Kazzaz.

The Mediterranean diet is low in processed food, red meat, and dairy. Instead, it’s filled with fish, fruit, nuts, vegetables, and legumes.

Most importantly, the primary source of fat is olive oil, which has amazing anti-inflammatory effect.

Dr. Nelly Kazzaz

It may not seem like much, but Kazzaz knows every number counts.

“Every 1% reduction in bad cholesterol will lead to a 1% reduction in cardiovascular events over the next five years.”

dr. nelly kazzaz

Heart disease is the number one killer, but there are things we can do to prevent it, like exercising more and eating a healthier lifestyle.

Kazzaz hopes we’ll all consider taking small steps to help our health in a big way.