The Mediterranean Diet is good for your heart — and five more reasons you should give it a try.
Trending now is the Mediterranean Diet — maybe you’ve heard of it.
Developed in 1993, the Mediterranean Diet, as its name suggests, culls from the eating habits of those living in various countries along the Mediterranean Sea. Why these countries? It turns out that most of the foods consumed in the everyday Mediterranean diet are heart healthy. And eating heart-healthy foods, as we all know, lowers your risk of developing heart disease.
Registered Dietitian Lynice Anderson, shares the basics of this diet and the benefits to your health.
The traditional Mediterranean diet is characterized by a high intake of the following:
- Fresh vegetables and fruit, both raw and cooked
- Fresh fish
- Nuts and olive oil
It also includes a moderate intake of:
- Dairy (mainly yogurt and cheeses)
- Red meat, refined grains and sugary foods
Carbohydrates, protein and fat comprise 50 percent, 10 to 35 percent and 20 to 35 percent of calories, respectively.
There are a multitude of benefits including:
- Decreases blood pressure and LDL (lousy) cholesterol levels
- High in fiber
- Promotes physical activity
- Higher in heart-healthy fats
- Can lead to weight loss
And while the Mediterranean Diet offers many health benefits, there may also be some challenges to overcome.
“With a focus on fresh foods, extra time may be needed for meal preparation,” notes Anderson. She also adds that with a strong emphasis on healthy fats, if overdone it could lead to weight gain. “As with any healthy eating plan, it really boils down to making good food choices and a well-balanced diet.”
An active lifestyle is a key component of the Mediterranean Diet. As always, when starting any diet or exercise program, talk to your doctor first to determine what program is best for you.