The Mediterranean diet is perfect for people who want a healthy heart. Well, the truth is that we all want a healthy heart, then why shouldn’t we incorporate Mediterranean food in our diet?
The plus point of Mediterranean food is that it has incorporated healthy eating since its traditional style of cooking.
The healthy Mediterranean diet comprises of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fats and limited unhealthy fats. Specially the countries which border the Mediterranean sea have a splash of olive oil in every dish and a glass of wine along with it as a specialty.
However, these are the basic entities. Certain differences and variations change the whole diet plan, making it healthier for heart patients.
Benefits of this diet
Certain Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. An analysis shows that more than 1.5 million people consuming Mediterranean diets are free from any type of heart risk. They have a healthy body as well as a healthy mind.
Let’s check out the Mediterranean diet pyramid:
These are the four levels of the Mediterranean diet plan.
|Level 4– meat and sweets|
|Level 3– Poultry, eggs, yogurt and cheese|
|Level 2– fish and seafood|
|Level 1– fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, legumes, herb seeds and spices.|
Key components of the diet plan:
- Eating plant based foods like fruits, whole grains, vegetables, legumes and nuts.
- Substituting butter with healthy fats like olive oil.
- Using spices and herbs to flavor food.
- Limiting red meat only a few times in a month
- Eating poultry and fish at least twice a day.
- Drinking red wine occasionally.
The main focus of Mediterranean diet has always been on fruits, grains and vegetables. The Mediterranean region generally has whole grains and contain very few unhealthy trans fats. Another important food of the Mediterranean diet is bread. The bread is eaten in a special way. It is dipped in olive oil instead of margarine or butter, which contain saturated fats in it.
Another important part of their diet is nuts. Though nuts are highly rich in fats, these fats are considered to be healthy. A handful of nuts is enough to gear up the day. More than that can increase the amount of calories in the body, leading to excess fat. For best nutrition, avoid having honey roasted, candied or heavily roasted fats.
Choosing healthier fats
The Mediterranean diet focuses on consumption of healthier types of fats. It discourages the consumption of hydrogenated fats and saturated fats. This protects the body from the risks of heart diseases.
It features olive oil as a primary source of fat. It contains non-saturated fat. This fat helps to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL), cholesterol levels when used in place of saturated fats. “Virgin” or “extra-virgin” olive oils contain the highest levels of compounds of protective plants that give antioxidant effects.
Some nuts and canola oil contain beneficial linolenic acid along with unsaturated fat. Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the blood clotting, lower triglycerides and decrease the risk of a sudden heart attack. It also improves the health of your blood vessels and helps to improve blood pressure. Fatty fish like lake trout, mackerel, sardines, herring, albacore tuna and salmons are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Let’s see, how can you get started with the Mediterranean diet:
- Switch to whole grains and eat lots of fruits and veggies: Make sure that you add lots of plant food in your diet. They shouldn’t be processed a lot. Try to include veggies, fruits, and nuts in all diets. Switch to whole grain cereal and bread. Eat whole grain rice and pasta products. Keep baby carrots, bananas and apples on hands for quick snacks. Fruit salads are the best way to consume healthy food.
- Go nuts: Nuts and seeds are good sources of protein, fibers and healthy fats. Add quick snacks like almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts to grab and gulp quickly. Consume only natural peanut butter. Try to blend sesame seeds as a spread for bread.
- Pass on the butter: Try olive oil or canola oil as a healthy replacement for margarine or butter. Drizzle it over vegetables. Cook all foods to help of olive oil. You can also add garlic or green chili for flavoring.
- Spice it up with herbs and spices.
- Make sure to consume fish twice a week. Fresh salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel and herring are healthy choices. Grill, broil or bake fishes for an awesome taste. Avoid the breaded and fried fish.
- Consume red meat only a few times in a day. Replace poultry or fish with red meat. When choosing red meat, always pick small pieces. Avoid processed meats, sausage, bacon and other high fats.