In the many diets that we read about and see on television these days, it's quite the difficult task to decipher which diet actually works and which is better left ignored. Well, there's good news for vegans, vegetarians and anyone who loves to munch on fruits and veggies for the immune system health, antioxidants and all the other benefits that they bring. The Mediterranean diet – a generic term applied to the culinary lifestyles of people from the Mediterranean region – has been shown to help those who are at risk for poor heart health.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
This diet consists of traditional food and drink from the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. It's more than just a diet, however. It's more of a lifestyle that includes foods, activities, meals with friends and family, and wine in moderation. There has even been a Mediterranean Diet Pyramid developed by scientists from Mediterranean countries, the Harvard School of Public Health and Oldways Health Through Heritage.
This diet consists of fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts, healthy grains, fish, olive oil, small amounts of meat and dairy, and red wine. Other elements to the diet include daily exercise, sharing meals with others and developing a deep understanding and appreciation for the pleasures of eating healthy.
Here are just a few examples of the things you can enjoy while on this diet:
Vegetables and tubers: Artichokes, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, kale, lemons, spinach, sweet potatoes and zucchini.
Fruits: Avocados, apples, cherries, pears, pomegranates, strawberries, tangerines, grapes, oranges and tomatoes.
Grains: Breads, oats, rice, polenta, buckwheat, barley, couscous and wheatberries.
Fish and seafood: Cockles, clams, crab, eel, flounder, lobster, tuna, sardines, shrimp, salmon and mussels.
Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt: Chicken, duck, quail, ricotta, brie, chevre, feta and Greek yogurt.
Nuts, seeds and legumes: Almonds, beans (chickpeas, fava, kidney, green), hazelnuts, pistachios, sesame seeds, split peas, walnuts.
Herbs and spices: Basil, bay leaf, clove, chiles, fennel, lavender, tarragon, thyme, sage and sumac.
Meats and sweets: Pork, beef, lamb, goat, button, baklava, biscotti, creme caramel, chocolate, and gelato.
Water and wine: Plenty of water and wine in moderation with your meals
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, individuals who stuck to a Mediterranean Diet had greater heart health than those who adhered to a low-fat diet. Study lead author, Dr. Miguel Angel Martinez-Gonzalez, said that this diet seemed to boost heart health due to the combination of good-quality fats – both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Vegetable oils and olive oils and a wide range of other nutrients can be credited for a healthy heart.
When you're not snacking on fruits and vegetables, including a dietary supplement in your diet may be a good idea to keep your ticker healthy. Heart health supplements help maintain blood pressure levels that are within the normal range. A normal blood pressure consists of a systolic reading that is less than 120 and a diastolic reading that is less than 80. This dietary supplement should be used in conjunction with exercise and a healthy diet to promote a healthy heart.