Mediterranean Diet For A Healthy Heart


A latest research says traditional Mediterranean diet reduces heart health risks. [1] This came out at a very good time when we are celebrating a Healthy Heart Month and found not many are aware of what a Mediterranean diet is comprised of. Worse, we feel its tough to be integrated in our usual lifestyle and thus, is of no use. Well, mop your fears away, for I’m here to shell out the smoothest path to healthy heart, sound mind and cleansed system. It is Med Diet busted!!

What is Mediterranean Diet?

If I quote wiki, “Mediterranean diet is a modern nutritional recommendation inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of Greece, Spain and Southern Italy.”

Don’t go by the name. It’s not a typical diet of Mediterranean region. It is based on a paradox that people living in Mediterranean areas consume fat rich foods and still suffer from lower risks of cardiovascular problems. [2]

Why?

Because their fat rich stuff is balanced well by other healthy constituents like fruits and veggies, whole grains, legumes like beans, peas, nuts and seeds, cooked in olive oil and seasoned with herbs and spices. They also consume plenty of fish and sea food, poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt and occasional meats and sweets. Irrespective of that, total fat in this diet is 25% to 35% of calories, with saturated fat at 8% or less of calories. [3]

Other Add-On Benefits of Mediterranean diet

  • Reduced risks of cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases
  • Weight loss and management if consumed in long term
  • Provides protection against diabetes and other allied disorders [4]
  • Decrease the risk of coronary diseases and stroke, especially in women. [5]
  • Clean, flushed out system and enhanced immunity
  • Clear, healthy, blemish free glowing skin

Why Mediterranean diet works so well?

  • It takes us back to nature where everything is in optimum quantity and healthy. As humans, our systems are better evolved to eat fruits and vegetables than meat and flesh. Moreover, this diet provides a great dose of antioxidants, eliminating need of any additional supplements. So, you surrender yourself to nature and let it take care of everything.
  • Similarly, the diet reduces processed fats like butter with something super healthy like olive oil
  • Salts are replaced by spices and herbs, which add the final healthy touch to food. And can I say that they lend it a heavenly delicious taste too?
  • Alcohol is reserved for occasions like family gatherings on Christmas or a rejuvenating getaway, so your system is clean most of the time, free of toxicity- turbo charged and running.
  • And the diet is super easy to follow.

How can you incorporate Mediterranean diet in your lifestyle?

These are the four rules of derived from the pyramid of Med diet that you must always keep in mind:

  1. Fruits and veggies, whole grains, legumes like beans, peas, nuts and seeds, cooked in olive oil and seasoned with herbs and spices – Base every meal on these foods
  2. Fish and sea food – Have them often or at least twice a week for a well balanced nutrition system
  3. Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt – You can consume them on a daily basis provided you have them in moderate portions
  4. Meats, wine and sweets – These should be strictly occasional

Now this is how you can follow these rules easily:

  • Snack time is Salad time: Eat fruits and vegetables in abundance, as salads, shakes, custards, sauted in olive oil. Just have them for a fresh, light feeling!
  • Grains should be consumed whole: sprout them or mix them with salads, remember to consume them whole. They’ll keep your energy levels boosted all day long while cleansing your gut with fiber-rich contents.
  • Bread is an essential part of Med diet, but it is eaten dipped in olive oil, as butter contains unhealthy fats that lead to LDL formation (its bad cholesterol).
  • Olive oil is the most important component of this diet. Use virgin or extra virgin olive oil, as it is less processed and therefore, more healthy. For a change, you can also use Canola oil.
  • Fish is rich in Linolenic acid or omega-3 fats which further reduce the level of unhealthy cholesterol from the system. Go fishing mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon!
  • However, avoid fried fish. Go for grilled, baked and broiled dishes.
  • Nuts are good for our system but they should always be consumed in moderation. Avoid candied and salty forms of nuts.
  • Alcohol is a debated item among researchers. However, studies have proved in moderation, alcohol can actually boost heart health. So, while on Med Diet, consume wine, preferably red no more than 5 ounces for women and 10 for men on a daily basis.
  • If you are into pasta, drizzle a little olive oil on it. Whenever I serve fresh curd with breakfast or dinner, I put a tablespoon of Olive oil in it too. This makes my bowl of curd sparkly, yummy and so much more healthy.
  • Now meat. Avoid it if you can. Limit to no more than twice a month. Whenever you consume, go for lean meat in a portion no more than size of a deck of cards. And, no processed forms. This means, a complete no-no for bacon and sausages.
  • Finally, cheese, yogurt and other dairy – have them in moderation, have them fat free or low fat.
References

[1] Justin Yang, Andrea Farioli, Maria Korre, Stefanos N. Kales. Modified Mediterranean Diet Score and Cardiovascular Risk in a North American Working Population. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087539

[2] Nordmann AJ, Suter-Zimmermann K, Bucher HC, Shai I, Tuttle KR, Estruch R, Briel M. Meta-analysis comparing Mediterranean to low-fat diets for modification of cardiovascular risk factors. Am J Med. 2011 Sep;124(9):841-51.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2011.04.024. PubMed PMID: 21854893.

[3] M.D. Walter C. Willett, P.J. Skerrett. Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating. ISBN-13: 978-0743266420

[4] Kushi LH, Lenart EB, Willett WC. Health implications of Mediterranean diets in light of contemporary knowledge. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995 Jun;61(6 Suppl):1407S-1415S. Review. PubMed PMID: 7754996.

[5] Fung TT, Rexrode KM, Mantzoros CS, Manson JE, Willett WC, Hu FB. Mediterranean diet and incidence of and mortality from coronary heart disease and stroke in women. Circulation. 2009 Mar 3;119(8):1093-100. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.108.816736. Epub 2009 Feb 16. Erratum in: Circulation. 2009 Mar 31;119(12):e379. PubMed PMID: 19221219; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2724471.

 

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