The Mediterranean Diet
A Mediterranean style diet has received much attention for its potential as a heart healthy diet. Some populations in the Mediterranean region have a diet that is higher in total fat than the low-fat often recommended for heart health (40% of calories vs. 30% of calories) and at the same time, a low rate of heart disease.
A moderate fat diet can be heart healthy. In fact, the most recent diet recommendations have backed away from recommending a very low fat diet for the general public, instead recommending a range of 25-35% of calories from fat. The key, is choosing the right healthy fats.
Why is the Mediterranean Diet Heart Healthy?
The Mediterranean style diet can be heart healthy in many ways. In a Mediterranean style diet, much of the fat comes from unsaturated fatty acids. These fatty acids are healthier for the heart than saturated fats. These diets are also high in fruits, vegetables, breads, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds. Some of these foods are known to protect against heart disease or contain heart healthy nutrients. Wine is consumed fairly regularly and some research suggests that a moderate consumption of alcohol, especially red wine which contains antioxidants, is heart healthy.
Mediterranean Diet Goals
If you want to follow a Mediterranean style diet that is also heart healthy try meeting these goals:
Olive Oil - Use olive oil as your primary source of fat. Substitute olive oil for butter, margarine and other vegetable oils.
Plant Foods - Base you diet on plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, nuts and seeds.
Fish and Poultry - Eat fish and poultry a few times per week, in low to moderate amounts
Cheese and Yogurt - Eat cheese and yogurt daily, in low to moderate amounts
Wine - Drink wine in moderation. For men, 2-3 drinks per day and for women, 1-2 drinks per day.
Meat - Eat red meat only a few times per month, in small amounts
Oldways Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.