A healthy Mediterranean diet is a healthy diet based on typical Mediterranean cuisine and recipes. Here's how to adopt a Mediterranean diet.

If you are looking for a healthy heart plan, the Mediterranean diet may be right for you.

The Mediterranean diet includes the basics of healthy eating - as well as a range of tasty olive oil, and perhaps a glass of red wine - among other ingredients that characterize traditional cooking in countries bordering the Mediterranean.

Most healthy diets include fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, and reducing unhealthy fats. While these parts of a healthy diet are a tried and true experience, slight differences or differences in the proportions of certain foods may make a difference in the risk of heart disease.

Benefits of the Mediterranean diet

Research has shown that traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. The diet was associated with a low level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the "bad" cholesterol that is likely to build up deposits in the arteries.

In fact, a meta-analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults showed that a Mediterranean diet was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease as well as overall mortality.

The Mediterranean diet is also associated with a lower rate of cancer, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. Women who take the Mediterranean diet with extra virgin olive oil and mixed nuts may have a lower risk of breast cancer.

For these reasons, most, if not all, major scientific organizations encourage healthy adults to adapt to a pattern of eating such as the Mediterranean diet pattern to prevent major chronic diseases.

The main ingredients of the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes:

  • Eat mainly plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts

  • Replace the butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil

  • Use herbs and spices instead of salt for flavoring foods

  • Limit red meat to no more than several times per month

  • Eat fish and poultry at least twice a week

  • Enjoy meals with family and friends

  • Drink moderately red wine (optional)

  • Get plenty of exercise

Fruits, vegetables, nuts and cereals

The Mediterranean diet includes fruits, vegetables, pasta and rice. For example, Greek people eat very little red meat and 9 servings a day of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.

Cereals in the Mediterranean are usually whole grains and usually contain very few unsaturated fats, and bread is an important part of the diet there. However, throughout the Mediterranean, ordinary bread is eaten or dipped in olive oil - not eaten with butter or margarine, containing saturated or unsaturated fat.

Nuts are another part of a healthy Mediterranean diet. Nuts are high in fat (about 80 percent of calories come from fat), but most fats are not saturated. Because nuts are rich in calories, they should not be eaten in large quantities - usually not more than a handful a day. Avoid nuts or honey broken nuts and salted nuts.

Healthy fats

The focus of the diet in the Mediterranean region is not just to limit the overall consumption of fat, but to make wise choices about the types of fats you eat. The diet in the Mediterranean does not promote saturated fats and hydrogenated oils (unsaturated fats), both of which contribute to heart disease.

The Mediterranean diet contains olive oil as the primary source of fat. Olive oil provides monounsaturated fats - a type of fat that can help lower LDL cholesterol levels when used instead of saturated or unsaturated fats.

Virgin and virgin virgin olive oils - the least processed forms - contain the highest levels of protective plant compounds that provide antioxidant effects.

Unaturated monounsaturated fat and multiple unsaturated fats, such as canola oil and some nuts, contain beneficial linolenic acid (a type of omega-3 fatty acid). Omega 3 fatty acids are linked to triglyceride reduction, low blood clotting, with a sudden decrease of heart attack, improved vascular health, and help moderate blood pressure.

Fatty fish - like mackerel, trout, herring, sardine, tuna and salmon - are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish are eaten on a regular basis in the Mediterranean diet.


The health effects of alcohol have been discussed for many years, and some doctors are reluctant to encourage alcohol consumption because of the health consequences of over-drinking.

However, alcohol - in moderation - has been associated with a lower risk of heart disease in some research studies.

The Mediterranean diet usually includes a moderate amount of wine. This means that there are no more than 5 ounces (148 millimeters) of wine per day for women (or men over the age of 65) and no more than 10 ounces (296 milliliters) of wine per day for men under the age of 65.

If you are unable to limit your intake of alcohol to the above limits, if you have a personal or family history of alcohol abuse, or if you have heart or liver disease, you should refrain from drinking wine or any other alcohol.

Put everything together

The Mediterranean diet is a delicious and healthy way to eat. Many people who have switched to this style of food say they will not eat any other way. Here are some steps to get started:

  • Eat your vegetables and fruits - and switch to whole grains. The abundance and variety of plant foods should be the majority of the meals you eat. Try to get seven to 10 servings a day of vegetables and fruits. Switch to full grain bread and cereals, and start eating more full rice and pasta products.

  • Go nuts. Keep the almonds, cashews, pistachio nuts in hand for a quick snack. Choose natural peanut butter, instead of the type with hydrogenated fat added. Try tahini (sesame seeds blended) as a dip or spread for baking.

  • Pass on the butter. Try olive oil or canola oil as a healthy alternative to butter or margarine. Use it in cooking. Dipping bread in olive oil with flavor or lightly spread on whole grain bread to get a delicious alternative to butter. Or try the tahini as a dip or spread.

  • Spice it. Herbs and spices make food savory and rich in substances that promote health. Place your meals with herbs and spices instead of salt.

  • Go fish. Eat fish once or twice a week. Fresh or salted tuna, trout, trout, mackerel and herring are healthy options. Grilled fish tastes good and requires little cleaning. Avoid fried fish, unless sauteed in a small amount of canola oil.

  • Rennes in red meat. Replace fish and poultry with red meat. When eaten, make sure they are lean and keep small portions (about the size of the set of cards). Also avoid sausages, bacon and other high fat meats.

  • Choose low-fat dairy products. Limit high-fat dairy products such as whole milk or 2 percent cheeses and ice cream. Switch to skimmed milk, fat-free milk and low-fat cheese.

  • Raise a cup to eat healthy. If it is ok with your doctor, take a glass of wine at dinner. If you do not drink alcohol, you do not need to start. Drinking purple grape juice may be a substitute for wine.


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