Mediterranean Style Diet


Kudos to Dr. Phil Ades and the folks at Eating Well – a wonderful resource for cardiac nutrition; referenced in this post.

Learn to Read Labels – It Can Save Your Life

Is This A Diet Plan?

  • No.
  • This is an enjoyable pattern of eating similar to the way that many people living around the Mediterranean Sea tend to eat – and a big reason why they enjoy, in general, a lower cardiovascular risk profile.
  • Unlike popular “diet plans,” this is based upon the best science available to us.  And it is SUSTAINABLE.

What Is It?

  • Low intake of saturated fat.

What does this mean, specifically?

  • Infrequent red meat (1-2 times per month); limit dairy fat.
  • No amount of trans-fat is good for you.  Trans-fats are oils that are processed to given them certain features, such as extending shelf-life or changing the melting point.  They come from a process called “hydrogenation,” – they are not natural to our bodies and cause harm in a variety of ways, like raising the “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lowering the “good” cholesterol (HDL).   Avoid margarines or hydrogenated oils.
  • A good rule of thumb: divide your weight (in pounds) by 12, and that is the limit in grams of your daily saturated fat intake (e.g. a 180 lb man has a limit of 15 grams/day of saturated fat).

Eat more of the good things.

What does this mean, specifically?

  • Focus on good fats (omega-3 fatty acids); it’s not that they aren’t bad for you, they are GOOD for you. High amounts in nuts (other than peanuts), fish, flaxseed, olive and canola oils.  Monounsaturated fats.
  • Fruits (not fruit juices, which have mostly sugar)
  • Vegetables (6-9 servings a day)
  • Whole grain products (instead of bleached white flour): includes breads, rice, pasta.
  • Soy protein
  • Fiber

12 Ways to Eat Like a Mediterranean:

  1. Replace butter with olive or canola oil whenever possible
  2. Snack on nuts, seeds or fruit instead of processed foods
  3. Include a generous leafy green salad with most dinners
  4. Help yourself to whole-grain bread, pasta, rice and other whole grains
  5. Fix at least a couple of vegetarian meals every week
  6. Add a dish that contains legumes (beans and lentils) to your weekly menu
  7. Have fish (not breaded or fried) twice a week
  8. If you eat meat, favor poultry (not fried)
  9. Limit red meat to 1-2 times per month
  10. If you drink, have no more than 1-2 glasses a night with meals
  11. Have fruit for dessert
  12. Set aside enough time to savor each bite.

Why Should I Eat This Way?

“There are risks and costs to a program of action.  But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction” – John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)

  • 90% of coronary heart disease is life-style related
  • For those who have had a heart attack, you cut your risk of having another heart attack or dying within 2 years by 50%. (Lyon Diet Heart Study: Benefits of a Mediterranean-style National Cholesterol Education Program/ American Heart Association Step I Dietary Pattern on Cardiovascular Disease. Kris-Etherton, P. et al. Circulation, 2001; 103: 1823-1825.
  • You will lose weight in a healthy way
  • Recent, well-designed, randomized controlled trial data show a 30% lower risk of developing your first heart attack or stroke by following a Mediterranean diet. Estruch, R, et al.  Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a mediterranean diet. N Eng J Med; February 25, 2013DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1200303

Where Can I Get More Information?

  • Search for “Mediterranean style diet” in any web browser
  • A great book with lots of easy to understand information regarding not only dietary suggestions with recipes, but about preventive cardiology, in general, written by an internationally respected preventive cardiologist: Eating Well for a Healthy Heart, by Dr. Phil Ades, 2008.

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