Mediterranean diet

Mediterranean

What is it?

The Mediterranean diet takes a lifestyle approach to heart-healthy eating. The main emphasis of the Mediterranean diet is to consume mostly plant-based foods, small amounts of lean meats, and to replace saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats, such as olive oil.

The diet includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, poultry and fish. This diet recommends limiting red meat to no more than a few times per month. Fish and poultry are encouraged up to twice per week. This diet focuses on heart-healthy fats such as plant or nut oils (like olive oil) and the use of herbs and spices to flavor foods, rather than salt. Low-fat dairy products are encouraged, as well.

Red wine is encouraged in moderation, due to its heart protective benefits (5oz for women and no more than 10oz for men).

Daily exercise is also important.

Advantages:

  • Rich in olive oil and nut fats, which can help reduce LDL (bad cholesterol).
  • Rich in fruits and vegetables which provide antioxidant benefits.
  • Fish is encouraged and provides a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and can help lower triglycerides.
  • May improve blood pressure.

Disadvantages:

  • Moderate consumption of red wine is encouraged (1 glass for women, 2 glasses for men), however it is not advised for those taking certain medications or have a history of pancreatitis or GERD.
  • High-caloric content of olive oil and nuts may contribute to weight gain, if not calculated into daily caloric intake.
  • Portion control is very important.

The research:

The Mediterranean diet is associated with reduced incidence of cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer disease.

Recipes:

Try out the Mediterranean diet with the below recipes from Food Network.

Information courtesy of Ashley Amaral, Registered Dietitian at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix.

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