Taking care of your heart

The Mediterranean diet is a healthy way of eating that emphasizes benefits for your heart. Based on the eating patterns of people who live in countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, this diet plan emphasizes eating lots of vegetables, fruits and whole grains and increasing your consumption of fish.

If you like to try the Mediterranean style of eating, here are some tips to follow:

• Use My Plate to plan your meals. My Plate emphasizes filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, which are a main staple of the Mediterranean diet.

• In addition to eating lots of vegetables and fruit, choose other plant based foods such as beans, nuts and whole grains, like brown rice and whole grain pasta.

• While you can still enjoy small portions of red meat, try to increase the amount of fish you’re eating to at least twice a week. Remember—fish is a good source of heart-healthy Omega-3 oils. Poultry is also lower in fat, so should be featured in many of your meals.

• Use olive oil and canola oil rather than butter, margarine or shortening. Olive oil, a monounsaturated fat is the main source of fat in this plan. Monounsaturated fats can help lower your level of LDL cholesterol.

• The Mediterranean diet also uses many herbs and spices such as garlic, basil and rosemary to enhance the flavor of food without adding extra fat, salt or sugar. Try to avoid the salt shaker.

• Avoid using processed, pre-prepared foods. These foods are often higher in fat, sugar and salt than the same foods prepared by you at home.

Cindy Williams41 Posts

Cindy Williams is the Meadowlark Extension District agent in the areas of food and nutrition.

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