We’ve all heard of and maybe have tried the fad diets like SlimFast, South Beach and Atkins to lose weight. But they all seem to have some major nutritional holes in them that aren’t good for you in the long run. Recently, here at Shane Diet & Fitness Resorts, we have received a lot of questions about whether or not the Mediterranean diet is good for weight loss and the answer is, no. But, the Mediterranean diet is good for heart health.
According to an article from the Mayo Clinic, the Mediterranean diet focuses on getting plenty of exercise; eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts; replacing butter with healthy fats like olive and canola oil; using herbs and spices to flavor foods rather than salt; limiting red meat consumption to a few times a month; eating fish and poultry a minimum of two times a week; and drinking red wine, in moderation of course. They found that following this way of eating wasn’t necessarily correlated to weight loss but helped lower heart disease and other heart related problems.
How to get started:
- Eat your fruits and veggies and switch to whole grains: Your meals should consist of a variety of plant based foods that are minimally processed and bought in season. The goal is nine to ten servings of fruits and veggies a day. Start eating whole grain bread, cereal, rice and pasta products.
- Get nutty: Almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts are great to have on hand for quick snacks, plus they are filling. Instead of buying peanut butter that has hydrogenated fat, buy a natural peanut butter.
- Leave butter behind: Use olive and canola oils for cooking instead of butter or margarine.
- Spice up your life: Instead of using salt to season your food, use herbs and spices. Not only will they help make your food taste good, they contain health enhancing substances.
- Go fishing: Eat fresh fish a couple times a week. Stay away from fried fish, unless it has been sautéed in canola oil.
- Replace red meat: Switch red meat for fish or poultry. When you do have red meat make sure the portions are small and that they are lean cuts. Avoid high fat meats like sausage and bacon.
- Focus on low-fat dairy: Consume more skim milk, fat-free yogurt and low fat cheese.
- Raise your glass: Having a glass of red wine at dinner has been shown to help lower heart disease. As long as it’s okay with your doctor, it’s okay with the Mediterranean diet.
Approximately 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and fatalities from heart disease could have been prevented in high risk patents if the individuals had changed their diet to follow more closely with the Mediterranean diet.
The New England Journal of Medicine conducted a clinical trial to see its effects on various heart risks. They ended the study early, due to the startling results. They found that the Mediterranean diet did indeed improve the heart health of the individuals participating and that it was not necessary to continue the trial.
The important thing to remember when changing your eating habits, whether if it’s to improve heart health, lose weight or both, make sure you are getting the nutrients you need. Do some research and find some recipes before you start and you’ll have all the tools you need to be on your way to a healthier heart and life.