The Mediterranean Diet Helps More Than Just the Heart!
Properly understanding the Mediterranean diet can help you make significant improvements in multiple areas of your health and well being. According to the statistics from the World Health Organization, Mediterranean’s have almost half as many deaths from cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, or obesity, than Americans. This presents a very obvious question.
How would you like to cut the risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes by 50%?
If “Yes” is your answer, then the rest of this article will get you started in the right direction! Especially if you want to cut your risk the natural way!
The term Mediterranean diet refers to nutritional patterns found in countries along the Mediterranean basin where lifestyle has historically been associated with good health. Life expectancy in these countries is among the highest in the world and heart disease and other diet-related diseases among the lowest.
What Does the Research Say?
Two major studies were conducted in Europe by Epic and Predimed. These studies showed that people who followed a Mediterranean diet based on fruits and vegetables, dry beans, grains, and healthy fats such as Omega-3s and olive oil, aged at a lower pace and lived longer. These two studies also showed that this diet can lower both blood pressure and cholesterol.
Another research study was conducted in Greece. This study investigated the survival rates among people with heart disease. Those that followed the Mediterranean diet had a significant decrease in mortality rates. Based on a scale of 1 to 10 units, the people who adhered to the Mediterranean diet even by just 2 units, had a 31 percent lower mortality rate from heart attack than those who didn’t implement this diet. Other studies have clearly shown that the combined effect of this diet is associated with a 50 percent lower risk for the leading causes of mortality.
What is The Mediterranean diet?
Although more and more people are proclaiming the health benefits of following a Mediterranean diet, there is still some confusion about what this diet consists of. My ebook, “Your Heart Needs the Mediterranean Diet” goes into depth and detail. However, I would like to give you a brief overview of what a traditional Mediterranean diet looks like. To start, let me ask you a very simple question:
How many times a week do you eat meat versus fruits and vegetables?
If the scale leans towards the meat side then you are not following a traditional Mediterranean diet but a diet with an excess of animal proteins. As the groundbreaking World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research Expert Report showed, animal protein is a significant risk factor for many types of cancer.
The following 10 points will help bring some clarity to a traditional Mediterranean diet:
- Don’t miss breakfast and have a snack in the afternoon. Research conducted worldwide has shown that skipping meals, both in the morning and in the afternoon, resulted in slowing down a person’s metabolism.
- It is possible to eat healthy and balanced snacks. If you opt for snacks that come in bags then be very careful with the quality and the portions. If you feel you are getting hooked on them then opt for a handful of nuts, a boiled potato with aromatic herbs, vegetable sticks with yogurt, or fruit.
- Don’t eat too much meat. Studies conducted by many worldwide associations have shown that the consumption of meat in Western societies surpasses that of any other food. The result is an excess of animal protein that has been linked to many degenerative diseases.
- Eat fish almost daily. Fish is rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals such as iron, phosphorous, and iodine. All of these ingredients are needed for the good functioning of our body. Fish also contains Omega-3 fats which are the right kind of fat for the heart and brain. These beneficial fats can be found in salmon, tuna, sardines, or mackerel. Prepare fish grilled or baked, never fried.
- Legumes, three or four times a week. The idea that legumes can make us gain weight has circulated for years. It’s not true. Of course, if you prepare legumes with fatty meats such as sausages, its calories will go up. However, just to give you an idea, a spoon of cooked lentils, about 20 grams, has only 39 calories.
- The Jewel of the Mediterranean – Olive oil. Avoid saturated and trans fats. Use olive oil as your main source of fat, both to cook and as dressing for your salads. Olive oil does not stick to your arteries. It also has many antioxidants, including vitamin E which is necessary for the health of our cells. Use extra virgin olive oil, never the refined varieties. Limit your olive oil to no more than 3 spoons a day since, like all fats it contains 9 calories per gram.
- Include something raw in every meal. Observe the recommendation of eating fruits and vegetables every day. Try to include a minimum of 5 pieces a day. Fruits and vegetables are a great way to ingest the antioxidants that allow our body to stay young, limit heart problems, and help our immune system protect us from disease.
- Aromatic herbs for flavor. Use the good culinary herbs from the Mediterranean basin: rosemary, basil, bay leaves, thyme, saffron, oregano, or coriander in your meals. They can replace salt for flavor while contributing many of the essential vitamins and minerals needed for good health.
- Nuts contribute high quality nutrients. A study conducted by Predimed states that people who include nuts in a Mediterranean diet gain less weight than people who don’t. Plus, they have less cardiovascular problems. Just the opposite of what most people think.
- Cereals and potatoes. Cereals such as wheat, rye, oats, rice and potatoes are important pillars of this diet and we need to eat them every day. Try to include them as side dishes with other foods that are higher in calories. Buy whole grains because their soluble fiber not only cleans your intestines but helps lower your cholesterol.
The Mediterranean Diet has been proven by scientific research to have heart health benefits. This diet is a synergy of health principles and although each component of this diet contributes with an array of benefits on its own, it’s the combination of all of them that makes this diet so powerful. If you follow the 10 points laid out for you in this article, you can be confident you are following a traditional Mediterranean diet. As Dan likes to say, “Until next time, may we both age youthfully!”
Have a great day,
P.S. As a convenience, I’ve also included links to the following Heart & Blood Pressure articles:
Blood Pressure Overview!
7 Natural Steps to Take the Hyper Out of Hypertension!
African Americans, High Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Health!
Watermelon Can Lower Your High Blood Pressure!
Endothelial Cells, Nitric Oxide & Your Cardiovascular System!
Fruits & Vegetables are Key to Cardiovascular Health!
The Dry Beans – Low Incidence of Heart Disease Connections!
5 Major Risk Factors for Heart Disease!
Omega-3 from Fish Reduce the Risks of Repeat Heart Attacks by as Much as 45%!
Cholesterol Levels: Good and Bad – What’s it All Mean?
Return from Mediterranean Diet to Blood Pressure & Cardiovascular Health
Return from Mediterranean Diet to Aging No More (Home Page)
The information contained in this website and posted articles are for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam. The information contained in this website and posted articles has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.