The Mediterranean diet is in the news again. This specific diet incorporates healthy eating habits with the fun, flavorful cooking styles of the sunny Mediterranean. Better yet, a recent study has shown that the Mediterranean diet can prevent approximately a third of strokes, heart attacks and deaths from heart disease in people with a high risk of heart disease. In the Mediterranean, traditional diets include eating fruits, vegetables, pasta, and rice and the focus is making wise choices about the foods that you eat, and that not all fats are “bad” fats. The diet mirrors the Step 1 diet by The American Heart Association, but contains less cholesterol and more fats that are good for you.
Key components of the diet include:
· Eating lots of fruits and vegetables
· Eating healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil
· Consuming a small portion of nuts
· Drinking red wine in moderation
· Consuming little red meat
· Consuming fish regularly
How do I incorporate the diet into my life?
· Eat natural peanut butter, as opposed to processed
· Use butter sparsely
· Eat lots of fruits and vegetable
· Use olive or canola oil
· Substitute fish for red meat
· Use lower fat dairy products
· Eat grilled fish once or twice weekly
· Keep nuts (walnuts, almonds. Pecans) on hand for snacking
· Try to avoid products that are fried
· Have a glass of red wine with dinner (if approved by your healthcare provider)
Why should this diet work?
The Mediterranean diet is rich in alpha-linolenic acid, which is a fat found in walnuts, walnut oil, canola oil, salmon, mackerel, and purslane. (A green vegetable.) Alpha-linolenic acid is turned into the fats that are found in oily fish and can protect you against heart disease. It makes your blood less sticky, and therefore less likely to form blood clots that can block blood vessels and cause either stroke or a heart attack.
Where did this diet start?
The Mediterranean diet is based off of the eating habits of people living in Mediterranean countries. The eating habits of the Greeks, Sicilians, and Tunisians were based on the agriculture, livestock, and fishing of their select regions. Certain foods, such as meat and cheese were never popular due to an unfavorable climate to raise extensive quantities of livestock, and historically consume lamb, game, poultry, and fish over beef.
What is the benefit of drinking red wine?
In traditional Mediterranean countries, people drink wine with their meals. After many years of study, it has been discovered that light alcohol intake is associated with reduced risk of heart disease. Red wine has an affect that is aspirin-like, and reduces the blood’s ability to clot. It also contains antioxidants, which may protect your cells against the effects of free radicals.