NewsUSA) - Donna Mendes, M.D., a senior vascular surgeon at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospitals in New York, N.Y., and member of the Society for Vascular Surgery, says approximately 795,000 strokes occur per year in the United States. You can improve your health -- and chances of avoiding a stroke, impairment and possibly death -- by simply switching to a Mediterranean diet. This can lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is the "bad" cholesterol that's more likely to build up fatty deposits in your arteries. The Mediterranean diet contains: * Olive or canola oil as a healthy replacement for butter or margarine. Use it in cooking, for dipping or even as a spread on bread. * Seven to 10 servings of vegetables and fruits daily. When possible, choose fresh and seasonal produce. If you like to snack, cut them up in pieces, and store them in your refrigerator. * Whole-grain bread and cereal. Begin to eat more whole-grain rice and pasta products. Choose organic dips for bread. * Healthy nuts. Include unsalted almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts limited to a handful per day. Choose natural peanut butter, without hydrogenated fat added. * No salt. For seasoning use herbs and spices instead. * Fresh fish and poultry one to two times a week. Try less fatty fish, like tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel and herring. Grilling, rather than frying, is the best way to prepare fish. Avoid skin on poultry. * Red meat, but only a few times per week. One portion should be the size of a deck of cards. Avoid salty and high-fat meats. * Low-fat dairy products like skim milk, fat-free yogurt and low-fat cheese. * If your physician permits it, you may have a glass of wine at dinner. To learn more about your vascular health, visit the Society for Vascular Surgery's website at www.VascularWeb.org.