The heart-healthy Mediterranean diet is promoted by professionals at the Mayo clinic as a healthy eating plan established using Mediterranean style foods and recipes. According to the Mayo Clinic staff: "The Mediterranean diet incorporates the basics of healthy eating — plus a splash of flavorful olive oil and perhaps even a glass of red wine — among other components characterizing the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea."
The healthiest diets always include fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains. They limit unhealthy fats. Healthy diets remain tried-and-true, while subtle variations in proportions and approaches to certain foods make a significant difference in your risk for heart disease.
Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
Research shows the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. A study of over 1.5 million healthy adults showed that by following a Mediterranean diet there is a reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer. It also reduces incidence of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans promotes the Mediterranean diet as an effective eating plan that delivers health and prevents disease.
- Eat mostly plant-based foods, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes
- Switch from butter to healthy fats, like olive or coconut oil
- Utilize herbs with spices over salt to flavor foods
- Reduce red meat to a few times monthly
- Enjoy poultry and fish twice a week
- Enjoy red wine in moderation (optional)
- Always choose low-fat dairy
This diet recognizes and emphasizes the importance of maintaining physical activity and enjoying meals with family and friends.
Snack on Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts and Grains
Residents of Greece average six or more servings a day of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. Snacks and meals of whole grains and bread are eaten plain or dipped/drizzled with olive oil — not eaten with butter or margarine, full of saturated or trans fats.
Nuts are an integral part of a healthy Mediterranean diet. They should not be eaten in large amounts — no more than a handful a day. Here are specific steps to get you started:
Mediterranean-style Grilled Salmon: You may substitute swordfish, halibut, sea bass or any other whitefish, and the calorie values are similar. Serves 4
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 salmon fillets, each 5 ounces
- Cracked black pepper, to taste
- 4 green olives, chopped
- 4 thin slices lemon
Make a hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill or broiler. Lightly coat the grill or broiler pan with olive oil. Place the cooking rack away from the heat source. Combine the basil, parsley, minced garlic and lemon juice in a small bowl. Brush the fish lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle the fish with black pepper. Top each fillet equally with the basil-garlic mix.
Grill the fish on high heat herb-side down on the grill. When edges turn white, after 3 to 4 minutes, place on aluminum foil. Reduce the heat or move away from the heat. Grill until the fish is opaque throughout. Test it with the tip of a knife and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the fish until it reaches 145 F (about 4 minutes longer). Remove the salmon. Place it on warmed plates. Garnish with lemon slices and green olives.
- And for desert: Baked Apple with Cherries and Almonds:
For simple and healthy desert - press wheat germ, brown sugar and finely ground almonds or walnuts into a pie pan. Fill with these delights and it ends with a crumble on top.
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