Ready to make the switch to heart-healthier eating? Here’s how to start following the Mediterranean diet.
If you’re looking for a heart-healthy diet, the Mediterranean diet might be right for you. The Mediterranean diet combines the basics of healthy eating with traditional Mediterranean flavors and cooking methods.
Why the Mediterranean diet?
Interest in the Mediterranean diet began in the 1960s, with the observation that coronary heart disease caused fewer deaths in Mediterranean countries, such as Greece and Italy, than in the United States and northern Europe. Subsequent studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet is associated with reduced risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
The Mediterranean diet is one of the healthy diets recommended to promote health and prevent chronic disease. It is also recognized by the World Health Organization as a healthy and sustainable diet and as an intangible cultural asset by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating based on the traditional cuisine of the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Although there is no single definition of the Mediterranean diet, it is generally high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, and olive oil.
The main components of the Mediterranean diet are:
– Daily consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats
– Weekly consumption of fish, poultry, beans and eggs
– Moderate portions of dairy products
– Limited consumption of red meat
Other important elements of the Mediterranean diet are sharing meals with family and friends, enjoying a glass of red wine, and physical activity.
Plant-based, not meat-based
The basis of the Mediterranean diet consists of vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, beans and whole grains. Meals are built around these plant-based foods. Moderate amounts of dairy, poultry and eggs are also central to the Mediterranean diet, as is seafood. In contrast, red meat is only eaten occasionally.
Healthy fats are a mainstay of the Mediterranean diet. They are eaten in place of less healthy fats, such as saturated fats and trans fats, which contribute to heart disease. Olive oil is the main source of added fat in the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil provides monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to reduce total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad” cholesterol) levels. Nuts and seeds also contain monounsaturated fats.
Fish is also important in the Mediterranean diet. Fatty fish, such as mackerel, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, salmon, and lake trout, are high in omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat that can reduce inflammation in the body. organization. Omega-3 fatty acids also help lower triglycerides, reduce blood clotting, and lower the risk of stroke and heart failure.
What about wine?
The Mediterranean diet generally allows red wine to be consumed in moderation. Although alcohol has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease in some studies, it is by no means risk free. Of course, you shouldn’t start drinking more often because of the potential health benefits.
Want to try the Mediterranean diet? These tips will help you get started:
– Eat more fruits and vegetables. Aim to consume 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
– Opt for whole grains. Opt for whole-grain breads, cereals and pastas. Try other whole grains, like bulgur.
– Use healthy fats. Try olive oil to replace butter when cooking. Instead of putting butter or margarine on the bread, try dipping it in pure, first cold-pressed olive oil.
– Eat more seafood. Eat fish twice a week. Tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel, and fresh or canned herring are healthy choices. Grilled fish tastes great and requires little cleanup. Avoid fried fish.
– Reduce your consumption of red meat. Replace meat with fish, poultry or beans. If you eat meat, make sure it’s lean and the portions are small.
– Enjoy dairy products. Eat low-fat Greek or plain yogurt.
– Add spice. Herbs and spices enhance flavor and reduce the need for salt.
The Mediterranean diet is a delicious and healthy way to eat. Many people who adopt this way of eating say they will never eat any other way.