The biggest fear of many seeking a better diet for their heart health is to be condemned to dull and tasteless food forever. If this includes you, then the Mediterranean diet might be the perfect fit. It integrates a healthy diet and a low sodium diet with the flavors and zest of countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. With splashes of red wine and olive oil, a heart-healthy diet has never been more appetizing.
This diet is inspired by the great traditional cuisines of Spain, Italy, and Greece. The main elements of the plan are eating high proportions of the plant kingdom. This includes fresh fruits and lots of fresh vegetables, legumes (beans), unprocessed grains, wine, olives and olive oil. This also includes lots of fresh garlic, herbs and spices, and fresh herbs. Eating low amounts of meats other than fish (which is eaten almost every day), and includes some dairy and sheeps milk and/or cows milk cheeses and yogurt.
It’s estimated that about a third of all coronary problems and strokes could be prevented by changing to a low sodium diet specifically to promote a healthy heart. A recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine produced overwhelming results. The study compared incidents of heart attacks, strokes, and death from cardiovascular causes. Results showed that participants following the Mediterranean style diet, all of which were high risk to begin with, had a 30% lower risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. These results are significant for those who struggle with weight loss, as weight loss was not even a factor!
So, what can you eat on a Mediterranean style diet? Here is an example.
Olive oil – Is a big part of the Mediterranean diet. Used in just about every recipe from salad dressings, or as a finishing oil drizzled on top of bread, soups or beans and used to saute or cook just about everything, even used to make cakes.
Seafood – Fish and shellfish are a staple of many countries with a coastline, and is the preferred meat in this diet plan. Shellfish like shrimp and fish like fresh tuna and salmon are lean sources of protein. Mediterranean area recipes choose mackerel and sardines that have higher amounts of omega 3, while Americans are more familiar with salmon and tuna also have good amounts of omega 3 fatty acids which promote a healthy heart.
Tomatoes – abundant in the foods of this area, are vitamin-rich and full of antioxidants for heart health. While they are at their peak eaten fresh, tomato sauces and pastes retain much of the nutritional value.
A simple Mediterranean diet style recipe: Shrimp or fish, lightly sauteed in olive oil, and gently tossed with tomatoes or in a light tomato sauce with fresh garlic and fresh basil or parsley is a delicious way to incorporate these foods.
If you are currently diagnosed with or are at risk for heart disease, the Mediterranean diet is a flavorful, healthy diet plan you can actually stick to and help you to have a more healthy heart.