Heart health is a phrase you will find
constantly when learning about the
Mediterranean diet. That’s because
most foods emphasized in the
Mediterranean diet contribute
to healthy heart! The leading cause
of death in the US is heart disease,
followed closely by cancer. Among
men and women, colon cancer is
the second leading cancer killer in
the US (the first is lung cancer). We can
help reduce our risk of heart disease and
many types of cancer, including colon cancer,
by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Our diet is one
lifestyle choice that can be the easiest to change in
a positive way. Eating healthy does not need a gym
membership or extra time outside of our normal routine.
Education is the key to starting up the path to a healthier
heart and body, so let’s get started!
Fruits and Vegetables are Where it’s At!
What’s so great about fruits and vegetable anyway? Everything!
Fruits and veggies are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and
phytochemicals. The phytochemicals are beneficial nutrients
found in plants which may protect against cancer. Lycopene,
lutein and carotene are phytochemicals that may be familiar
to you. Dark or bright colors are an indication of high phyto-
chemical content; think spinach, blueberries, and tomatoes. Buy
in-season fruits and vegetables for the best flavor and quality.
Swiss chard, fava beans, broccoli,
spinach, strawberries, and mangoes
are all in-season in the spring.
Whole Grains for Digestive
Grains are complex carbohydrates, so
they provide lasting energy to your
body. The healthiest grains are whole
grains. Selecting whole grain pasta,
bread, cereal, and flour, as well as
brown rice is one of the easiest changes you
can make to improve your diet. Popcorn, wild
rice, oats, bulgur wheat, cracked wheat, quinoa and
wheat berries are also whole grains. When purchasing
whole grain, some key words to look for are 100% “whole
wheat,” “whole grain,” and “fiber.” “Multigrain” does not mean
whole grain.
Whole grains contain germ and bran. Germ is rich in B vita-
mins, minerals and essential fatty acids. Bran is the fibrous
outer covering on grains. The fiber in bran is like a brush for
your digestive system; it cleanses the body of buildup. High
dietary fiber has been linked to a reduced risk of cancers of the
digestive system, such as colorectal cancer. Men should aim for
38 grams fiber per day, while women need 25 grams. Those
over 50 need slightly less fiber. Grams of dietary fiber are
listed on the Nutrition Facts panel of the foods and ingredients
you purchase.
Spring 2013
The Mediterranean diet is not a get-slim-quick gimmick, and it does not mean loading up
on spaghetti and Greek yogurt. Rather, it is learning to choose foods that promote a healthy
heart and body. The Mediterranean-style diet is quite similar to what we already know to
be a healthy way of eating. Each meal should be based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains,
and legumes. Protein should mostly come from plant sources and fish, whereas red meat
is limited. Healthy fats such as olive oil should replace all other fats and oils in our diet. And
nuts can be enjoyed in small portions. Continue reading to learn more about the benefits
you can gain from the nourishing, balanced Mediterranean diet, and how to make it part
of your healthy lifestyle. As with any lifestyle change, be sure to talk to your doctor before
making changes to your eating habits.
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