What is the Mediterranean Diet?
May is International Mediterranean Diet Month. This diet is mostly plant-based, however it includes lean meats, fish, and dairy. Foods included in the Mediterranean Diet are low in cholesterol and saturated fats, and high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show that this diet is one of the most balanced and heart-healthy ways to eat! The Mediterranean “Diet” is truly a lifestyle that embraces physical activity, heart and overall health, and enjoying healthy meals with family and friends.
Heart Healthy Diet
In the 1950s researchers noticed that heart disease was not common in Mediterranean countries when compared to the United States. Since then numerous studies have proven that a Mediterranean diet can help prevent heart disease and strokes.
Olive oil (the primary fat of a Mediterranean diet) provides monounsaturated fat, which lowers total cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol levels. Nuts and seeds incorporated into this diet also contain monounsaturated fat.
Polyunsaturated fats help to fight inflammation in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids help decrease triglycerides, reduce blood clotting, and lower the risk of stroke and heart failure. These are commonly found in fatty fish.
Wines are associated with the Mediterranean diet, but only in moderation. Red wine may help to reduce the risk of heart disease, but it is important to remember that any alcohol has other health risks.
Where Do I Begin?
- Start building your meals around vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
- Incorporate fish in your diet at least twice a week.
- Use olive oil instead of butter for preparing your foods.
- Instead of sweets, enjoy fresh fruit as dessert.
- Get physically active daily.
- Whole grains
- Nuts & Seeds
- Herbs & Spices
- Olive Oil
- Fish & Seafood
Dairy and poultry can added in moderation, however, red meat and sweet should only be eaten occasionally. Need help creating meals? Click HERE for some recipes!