Diet does play a role in heart disease prevention, and following the Mediterranean diet can help to lower your risk. This eating plan is based on the food patterns typically followed by people living in Greece, Crete, and southern Italy. The Mediterranean diet includes the following elements:
- Lots of plant foods
- Fresh fruit for dessert
- Poultry and Fish (moderate amounts only)
- Low-fat dairy products (yogurt and cheese)
Olive oil is the main fat consumed with this diet. Eggs can be eaten in moderation, which means no more than four each week. Red meat is an occasional part of the diet plan, as opposed to the usual North American diet where it makes its way onto plates quite often. Wine is a part of the Mediterranean diet, and can be included in low to moderate amounts.
Fat consumption is kept to between 25-35 percent of calories consumed. Saturated fat makes up approximately 8 percent of calories with the Mediterranean diet. This eating plan is low in saturated fat and high in dietary fiber.
A high-fiber diet helps to keep overeating in check, since it keeps between-meal hunger at bay much better than diets that don’t have enough high-fiber foods.
Although people living in Mediterranean countries eat a high level of fat in their diet, they don’t develop heart disease at the same rate as North Americans. Using olive oil in cooking helps to protect against heart disease, since it lowers blood pressure as well as blood sugar levels. Olive oil may also provide some protection against cancer. Red wine also plays a part in heart health, since it contains antioxidants.
If you are looking for a heart-healthy diet that provides a variety of food choices, then consider the Mediterranean diet.