Eating the Mediterranean Way For a Healthy Heart

If you’re looking for a way to improve your heart health, you might consider

eating the Mediterranean way. Researchers have studied how people eat around

the world and found that individuals who live in countries bordering the

Mediterranean Sea follow some general principles in how they eat that lowers

their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and

improves their overall heart health.

You might be familiar with some of the more common principles of the diet—such

as cooking with olive oil or perhaps you’ve heard drinking a glass of red wine

might help your heart—but there’s more to it than that.

In general, the main components of the Mediterranean eating plan are:

  • Eating more fruits and vegetables with meals and as snacks
  • Cooking with healthy fats like olive oil and canola oil
  • Flavoring your food with herbs and spices instead of salt
  • Eating a small portion of nuts (e.g., walnuts, almonds, pecans and Brazil nuts) as a snack each day
  • Drinking red wine, in moderation. This means no more than 5 ounces of wine daily for women and no more than 10 ounces of wine daily for men.
  • However, if you don’t drink, don’t start. Most benefits of red wine can also be obtained from drinking concord grape juice.
  • Changing-up your main dishes. Eat some meals each week without meat and at least two times each week eat fish or shell fish.

Start by making small changes in your usual food choices, and keep making

those changes, they become a way of life. Try some of these ten simple things:

  • Eat a fruit or vegetable at every meal. Add fruit to cereal, a vegetable or fruit side salad to lunch or stack your sandwich with more vegetables, like tomato slices or onions.
  • Snack on raw vegetables instead of tortilla chips with salsa.
  • Eat natural peanut butter, rather than the kind made with hydrogenated fat.
  • Try canola or olive oil in cooking or occasionally on bread instead of margarine or butter.
  • Eat fish once a week instead of red meat. Try water-packed tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel and herring.
  • Use a vinaigrette dressing in place of a mayonnaise-based dressing.
  • Choose low fat milk or yogurt.
  • Eat a small handful of nuts for a snack or try them on top of a fruit or vegetable salad.
  • Choose whole grain cereals and breads more often.
  • Season food with garlic, onions, herbs and spices instead of salt.