If you're looking for a heart-healthy eating plan, the Mediterranean diet might be right for you. The Mediterranean diet incorporates the basics of healthy eating — plus a splash of flavorful olive oil and perhaps a glass of red wine — among other components characterizing the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
Most healthy diets include fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains, and limit unhealthy fats. While these parts of a healthy diet remain tried-and-true, subtle variations or differences in proportions of certain foods may make a difference in your risk of heart disease.
People who follow the average Mediterranean diet eat less saturated fat than those who eat the average American diet. In fact, saturated fat consumption is well within our dietary guidelines.
More than half the fat calories in a Mediterranean diet come from monounsaturated fats (mainly from olive oil). Monounsaturated fat doesn't raise blood cholesterol levels the way saturated fat does.
The incidence of heart disease in Mediterranean countries is lower than in the United States. Death rates are lower, too. But this may not be entirely due to the diet. Lifestyle factors (such as more physical activity and extended social support systems) may also play a part.
Before advising people to follow a Mediterranean diet, we need more studies to find out whether the diet itself or other lifestyle factors account for the lower deaths from heart disease.
From: American heart .org
Evidence has been accumulating for about a decade now that the Mediterranean diet is quite good for heart health. That evidence has now become compelling. For instance, in a huge clinical study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the AARP, almost 400,000 participants were "scored" according to their adherence to a typical Mediterranean diet, then followed for 5 years. Both men and women whose eating patterns strongly resembled a Mediterranean diet had a 20% reduced chance of dying from cardiovascular disease. Men who were on a Mediterranean diet also had a 20% lower risk of cancer; women on the diet also had a somewhat reduced risk of cancer.
From: Heart disease about.com
Olive Oil: olive oil is used almost exclusively in Mediterranean cooking. Olive oil is a rich source of monounsaturated fat, which can lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol while increase HDL cholesterol . It is also a source of antioxidants including vitamin E. Researchers from the University of Michigan Health System published a study in December 2008 in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. They suggested 8 to 10 servings of high-MUFA foods per day.
Fish: Fish, especially "oily fish", such as salmon is high in omega 3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat which can also lower cholesterol. In 2002, the American Heart Association made a recommendation to the general public to include at least 2 servings of fish per week.
Fruits and Vegetables: These are high in beneficial fibers and antioxidants, which are protective against both heart disease and cancer. Indeed, a recent study published in January 2006 by London researchers showed that 5 servings of fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of stroke by 25 percent.
Wine: People from the Mediterranean region drink 1 - 2 glasses of wine (usually red wine) a day with meals. Red wine is a rich source of flavonoid phenolics - a type of antioxidant which protect against heart disease by increasing HDL cholesterol and preventing blood clotting.
From: Health castle .com
Mediterranean diet food list
Things to eat every day
* Cereals: bread and pasta, rice, maize, oats, luff, grain, potatoes.
* Beans, peas, lupins.
* Fruits: apples, pears, oranges, Mandarin, apricots, peaches, grape, fichi, water-melons, melons, raspberries, strawberries, chestnuts, walnuts, nuts, almonds, pistachio nuts.
* Vegetables: turnips, carrots, salads, spinach, broccoli, cabbages, tomatoes, eggplants, capsicum, zucchini, onions.
* Olive oil
* Aromatic grass: basil, thymus, oregano, garlic.
* Milk and cheeses
Nourishing: Glucidi (starch), vegetal proteins, vitamins B, fiber. vitamin and provitamin C, minerals and anti-oxidants, water, fibre, Animals Proteins, phosphorus.
Functions: Energetic, plastic, Regulative, protective.
From: The Mediterranean Diet Recipes .com
The focus of the Mediterranean diet isn't to limit total fat consumption, but to make wise choices about the types of fat you eat.
The Mediterranean diet is similar to the American Heart Association's Step I diet, but it contains less cholesterol and has more fats. However, the fats are healthy — including monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, and polyunsaturated fats, which contain the beneficial linolenic acid (a type of omega-3 fatty acid). These fat sources include canola oil and nuts, particularly walnuts. Fish — another source of omega-3 fatty acids — is eaten on a regular basis in the Mediterranean diet. Omega-3 fatty acids lower triglycerides and may improve the health of your blood vessels. The Mediterranean diet discourages saturated fats and hydrogenated oils (trans-fatty acids), both of which contribute to heart disease.
From: Mayo clinic .com
Colourful vegetables seem to be better for us than non-colourful vegetables, said Anand, who suggested that people eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.
They found little strong evidence showing benefits or harm of foods such as meats, butter, eggs and other high-fat dairy products.
Anand said she hoped the "strong evidence categories" for both protective and harmful foods will help people choose what to eat, and help dietitians and physicians counsel patients, rather than telling people to avoid certain types of fat.
To rank the foods, Anand's team used criteria developed by Sir Austin Bradford Hill, the late British scientist who helped establish the link between smoking and lung cancer.
Commenting on the review, Jean-Pierre Despres of the Quebec Heart and Lung Institute said the research was well done and systematic.
"It's another opportunity … to emphasize to the Canadian population there's no miracle single thing in what we eat that is going to cure diabetes and heart disease," he said from Quebec City.
"It's a little bit of several simple good things."
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health supported the research.
From: Cbc .ca