How the Mediterranean Diet Could Help Your Heart

The word is still out on how much the Mediterranean Diet could help your heart. While some people are skeptical, others swear by it.

Whether or not it’s right for you depends on a variety of factors, and only your cardiologist or primary care doctor can provide you with the right advice. Knowing that something as simple as the Mediterranean Diet could be a way to be proactive when it comes to your heart health, however, might make you feel more optimistic about your future instantly.

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean Diet is more a way of life rather than it is a temporary diet, which is often a means of losing or gaining weight. Instead, many people have found themselves feeling healthier naturally by following the Mediterranean Diet plan over time.

It features foods eaten in Spain, Greece, southern Italy, and France, as well as other countries that border the Mediterranean Sea.The recommended foods are rich in monounsaturated fats, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. The diet emphasizes eating foods like fish, fruits, vegetables, beans, high-fiber breads, and whole grains, while greatly limiting the intake of meat, cheese, and sweets.

An average of 35 percent to 40 percent of calories can come from fat, while other heart-healthy guidelines recommend less than 35 percent of your calories from fat. The focus of the diet is on making wiser food choices rather than limiting fat intake. In other words, choose fish or poultry rather than red meat, and those few times when you do decide to eat red meat, make sure it’s lean.

Why the Mediterranean Diet Could Help Your Heart

The fats that are allowed in the Mediterranean Diet are mostly unsaturated oils, such as fish oils, olive oil, and certain nut or seed oils, which may have a protective effect on the heart. Unhealthy fats, on the other hand, could contribute to clogged arteries, high blood pressure, and various forms of heart disease.

In fact, a recent study showed that the Mediterranean Diet plus olive oil or nuts reduced the risk for heart events by roughly 30 percent compared to a low-fat diet, and a variety of other studies have also shown that the diet reduces the risk of heart disease. It also has been associated with a lower level of oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the “bad” cholesterol that’s more likely to build up deposits in your arteries.

The Role of Herbs and Spices

Many herbs and spices are known for their healthy properties. They have been associated with reduced risks of heart disease, certain cancers, and even arthritis. Therefore, using healthy herbs and spices can complement the Mediterranean Diet to possibly provide consumers with a multitude of benefits.

Some of the healthiest herbs and spices on Earth are those that you probably consume regularly, such as:

  • Cinnamon
  • Turmeric
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Cardamom
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Ginger

Every individual is different when it comes to dietary needs and medical treatment. While the Mediterranean Diet could help your heart, for example, a cardiologist might recommend a low-fat diet for your spouse depending on the circumstances. For that reason, you should consult with your cardiologist and primary care physician before beginning any diet or exercise plan.