The Mediterranean diet is one of the most beneficial heart healthy ways of life that has yet to be discovered. Following a Mediterranean diet includes consuming upwards of nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily, eating whole grains such as breads, rice and pasta and eating fish and legumes as the main sources of protein. The result of eating many antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables as well as consuming very little red meat is the ability to maintain low levels of LDL cholesterol over a lifetime.
Heart healthy fats, such as olive oil, are also an essential part of the Mediterranean lifestyle and can account for as much as forty percent of the diet. These fats are beneficial due to being monounsaturated as well as including the beneficial Linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid. Linolenic acid can be found not only in olive oils but also in fish, walnuts, and canola oil all of which are used heavily in the Mediterranean diet. Omega -3 fatty acid plays a vital role in lowering triglycerides and improving the over all health and function of the blood vessels.
Easing your way into a healthy Mediterranean lifestyle is very easy to do. Start by using butter sparingly and always using canola or olive while cooking. Substitute chicken or fish at every opportunity for red meat and always avoid using high fat meats such as sausage and bacon. Try to avoid fried foods altogether unless it is a healthy cut of meat sautéed in very little olive oil. Limit your intake of high fat dairy products by switching to low fat milk and fat free yogurts and cheeses. Most importantly remember that just because a product says it is low in fat or cholesterol does not mean it is good for you. Many times these products contain the worst types of trans fats which are a leading cause of heart disease.