It is well known that the Mediterranean diet is good for a healthy heart and there is much research to support this. In a study published in BMC MED researchers analyzed the diet of 23,902 adults in England and found that those whose diet was closest to a Mediterranean diet were significantly less likely to develop heart disease. Also, the traditional Mediterranean diet has been associated with a lower risk of blocked arteries. In fact in a randomized control trial the Mediterranean diet has been linked with improving High-Density Lipoprotein function, (HDL the good cholesterol), in high-cardiovascular-risk individuals.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
It is a traditional way of eating real whole foods that are found locally in the countries that surround the Mediterranean. But as you can see below these are foods that we get in our supermarkets, all over the world and can easily be included in our diet.
Some of the main aspects of the Mediterranean diet to include are:
- Plenty of fresh vegetables. You should ensure that you have these nutrient rich foods at both lunch and dinnertime. You can make simple salads using vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, carrots, leafy greens, etc. In the winter months if you prefer warmer foods you can roast or grill your vegetables, stir-fry them or have vegetable soups.
- Beans and legumes, which are a good source of protein and fiber. If you don’t have time to cook your beans you can get BPA-free canned beans and add these to your soups and salads. Also, have whole grains like oats, barley, brown rice and whole wheat and reduce your consumption of processed grains. The soluble dietary fiber in these foods has been shown to reduce lipid levels, blood pressure and inflammation and also legume consumption has been associated with a lower risk of cardio-vascular disease.
- Olive oil is the main oil used in the Mediterranean, it has antioxidants shown to have cardio protective effects and has been shown to decrease plasma LDL concentrations (the bad cholesterol) . Do use this to make your salad dressings.
- Seafood such such as salmon, tuna and sardines are a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids and fish intake has been associated with lower cardiovascular disease in Mediterranean population.
- Fresh fruit like oranges, apples, pomegranates, grapes, etc are eaten daily and you should have these instead of sugar-laden desserts.
The Mediterranean diet is based on having a healthy lifestyle; eating a variety of delicious foods, being active and enjoying quality time with family and friends. As you can see it is very easy to include many of these foods in our diet for a healthy heart. (This article was written for Triyoga
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