The following is excerpted from an article published by the Mayo Clinic News Network on November 17, 2014.
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 even 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.
Benefits of the Mediterranean diet
Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. In fact, an analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer, as well as a reduced incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends the Mediterranean diet as an eating plan that can help promote health and prevent disease. And the Mediterranean diet is one your whole family can follow for good health.
Key components of the Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes:
- Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts.
- Replacing butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil.
- Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods.
- Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
- Eating fi sh and poultry at least twice a week.
- Drinking red wine in moderation (optional).
The diet also recognizes the importance of being physically active and enjoying meals with family and friends.