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 good red wine, among other components characterizing the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.The Mediterranean eating style significantly reduces the risk of further heart disease in individuals who had already had a heart attack
Key components of the Mediterranean diet include:
Eating a generous amount of fruits and vegetables
Consuming healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil
Eating small portions of nuts
Drinking red wine, in moderation, for some
Consuming very little red meat
Eating fish on a regular basis
Fruits, vegetables and grains
Putting it all together You can successfully incorporate the Mediterranean diet into your life by being an informed consumer and a smart shopper. Choose plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, limit intake of red meat, eat fish - not fried or laden with butter or heavy sauces - at least once a week, don't be afraid of healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts and canola oil (but use these in moderation because of their high calorie content), and reduce or eliminate saturated fat and trans fats (also known as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils) from your diet. Read food labels to see what you're really buying. Here are some specific steps you can take:
Eat natural peanut butter, rather than the kind with hydrogenated fat added.
Use butter sparingly, and don't think that "low fat" or "cholesterol-free" on the label means a product is necessarily good for you. Many of these items are made with trans fats.
Eat a variety of whole fruits and vegetables every day. Ultimately, strive for seven to 10 servings a day. Keep baby carrots, apples and bananas on hand for quick, satisfying snacks. Fruit salads are a wonderful way to eat a variety of healthy - and tasty - fruit.
Use canola or olive oil in cooking. Try olive oil for salad dressing and as a healthy replacement for butter or margarine. After cooking pasta, add a touch of olive oil, some garlic and green onions for flavoring. Dip bread in flavored olive oil or lightly spread it on whole-grain bread for a tasty alternative to butter.
Substitute fish and poultry for red meat. Avoid sausage, bacon and other high-fat meats.
Limit higher fat dairy products such as whole or 2% milk, cheese and ice cream. Switch to skim milk, fat-free yogurt and low-fat cheese.
Eat fish once or twice a week. Water-packed tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel and herring are healthy choices. Grilled fish tastes good and requires little cleanup. Avoid fried fish, unless it's sauteed in a small amount of olive oil.
Keep walnuts, almonds, pecans and Brazil nuts on hand for a quick snack.
If it's OK with your doctor, go ahead and have a glass of red wine at dinner with your pasta or fish. If you don't drink alcohol, you don't need to start.