Heart Healthy Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

By Kristen Shelby
American Heart Association
Heart Healthy Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

A Mediterranean-style diet can play a big role in preventing heart disease and stroke and reducing risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. There is some evidence that a Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil may help the body remove excess cholesterol from arteries and keep blood vessels open.

One of the best parts about the Mediterranean diet is that the meals can be delicious and enjoyable. It is a plant-based diet where the majority of the foods in the meal come from fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Meat and poultry are eaten in small amounts and olive oil is used as its primary fat source. Olive oil is very heart-healthy because it is one of the good cholesterols that helps clear out bad cholesterol. One simple ingredient swap is to replace your animal fats and margarine with extra virgin olive oil.

The main protein is in beans which are high in fiber and protein. The diet increases ingredients which include heart healthy omega three foods such as walnuts, salmon, greens, flax oil, and shrimp. It includes whole grains like farro, millet, oats, which are good for the digestive system. For desert time, replace processed sugary foods with sweet whole fruits.

A person from New Orleans can follow the Medi diet by eating what they already know. One of New Orleans’ most common dishes is red beans and rice. It is a low-cost recipe that is packed with healthy protein even if you leave out meat. Use olive oil to coat the pan and add in more vegetables than normal- vegetables like celery, onions, minced garlic, and bell peppers. Substituting the canned kidney beans for the dried pack beans can help to control how much salt is added. Replace white rice with whole grain rice or quinoa and season it with herbs and spices like thyme, oregano, and cayenne pepper.

Sources:
https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/mediterranean-diet

https://www.heart.org/en/news/2020/03/05/olive-oil-may-lower-heart-disease-risk#:~:text=Researchers%20found%20those%20who%20ate,risk%20of%20coronary%20heart%20disease.

Sources: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/mediterranean-diet https://www.heart.org/en/news/2020/03/05/olive-oil-may-lower-heart-disease-risk#:~:text=Researchers%20found%20those%20who%20ate,risk%20of%20coronary%20heart%20disease.

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