Wouldn’t it be great not to have to count those calories? What if it wasn’t necessary to cut out certain major food groups but instead, swap out bad fats for heart-healthy ones like olive oil instead of butter, etc. Studies now show that we can now do this with the Mediterranean diet.
Let’s enjoy fish or poultry instead of red meat, fresh fruit instead of sugary, fancy desserts and eating our fill of flavorful veggies and beans. Those nuts are a mainstay, too, but limit them to no more than a handful a day. Enjoy those whole-grain breads and some wine in moderation.
Get rid of those frozen foods and avoid those fast-food drive-thru lanes. Focusing on fresh, seasonal food is essential, prepared in simple and delicious ways. Prepare a yummy salad with all those fresh veggies.
If you choose bread, make sure they are whole grains. Even pasta made from whole grains is good with more protein and minerals and they won’t give you a sugar rush and then a crash.
The kind of fat that’s good for your heart is a staple in the Mediterranean diet. This good fat is found in nuts, olives and olive oil. These are filled with flavor and help to fight diseases from diabetes to cancer.
You aren’t limited to Greek and Italian food as France, Spain, Turkey, Morocco and other regions are included. Just stick to the basics, go light on the red meat and whole-fat dairy and include lots of fresh fruits and veggies, olive oil and whole grains.
Don’t forget those herbs and spices that include bay leaves, cilantro, coriander, rosemary, garlic, pepper and cinnamon. You won’t even need that salt shaker by using these tasty spices. There are health benefits as disease-fighting antioxidants and nutrients in some of these spices.
Usually the Greek meals are small and even plates of cheese, olives, nuts, red bell peppers and Greek dip can make a meal. You might even include some wine with your meals. Studies indicate up to one glass a day for women and two for men may be good for your heart. The Mediterranean choice is red wine and may be healthier than white wine. Check with your doctor to see if sipping wine is ok for you.
You won’t be hungry on this diet by taking advantage of those roasted sweet potatoes, hummus and lima beans. As you digest these rich-tasting foods slowly you will feel full longer. You are not going to have a problem with hunger by munching on nuts, olives or bites of low-fat cheese.
It seems a little unrealistic to think of losing weight by eating nuts, cheese and oils but those basics leave you feeling full and satisfied and help you to stick to a diet. Of course, regular physical activity is needed to keep a healthy weight and is an important part of the lifestyle.
Last but not least, your heart is going to thank you. Nearly everything on this diet is good for your heart. Your “bad” cholesterol will be lowered with olive oil and nut consumption. Your arteries will be kept clear with the help of fruits, veggies and beans. Help lower triglycerides and blood pressure with fish and even that daily glass of wine may be good for your heart.
Remember that what protects your heart is also good for your brain. By not eating bad fats and processed food, you are eliminating causes of inflammation and consuming antioxidant-rich foods for a brain-friendly choice.