What is the Mediterranean diet about? This can be the ultimate number one prevent heart attack diet. No, there’s still no such thing as magic, but this diet contains some important key foods that can prevent heart disease.
On top of preventing heart attacks, the Mediterranean diet can also cause weight loss, prevent type 2 diabetes, and extend your life. In this article, I will be disclosing a heart healthy food list, to get you started on your journey, to perfect health.
Along with Greece, the Mediterranean includes many countries, 23 to be exact. The only ones most people can think of are, Italy, Greece, Spain, Morocco, and Turkey; and that is only 5 out of 23 but who cares anyway, right?
Actually, Right! The Mediterranean diet was inspired by the way the Italians, Greeks, and Spanish people ate, so all those other countries don’t have much impact on the Mediterranean diet as we know it today.
Due to my Greek heritage, I have been exposed to a hand full of Mediterranean type foods, my entire life. No, Greeks are nothing like from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. The Mediterranean culture is absolutely beautiful and well worth the experience to visit.
The food in the Mediterranean is absolutely to die for, from their olives, to the baklava, it is all Delicious. So, how could a diet with great tasting food be so beneficial?
What is the Mediterranean Diet About?
The Mediterranean diet goes back to the 1940’s and 1950’s and was created based off of what the Greeks, Italians, and Spanish people ate. The Greeks and Italians love their extra virgin olive oil, so it is easy to predict that this will be an important item in this kind of diet.
You can cook with it, put it in your salad as a dressing, and even dip your bread in a dish of olive oil and oregano seasoning. If you travel to the Mediterranean area, you will definitely witness this at almost every restaurant.
The diet also consists of legumes, such as:
- Lupin bean
I can’t tell you how many times my father and mother have cooked lentil soup or soybeans. I had no idea this was actually part of the Mediterranean diet, until just a couple months ago. This diet also includes:
- Unrefined Cereals
- Herbs and Spices
- High consumption of fish
- Cheese and yogurt
- Other non-fish meats ( Low consumption of these meats. It is vital to remember this as it is extremely important.)
- Wine ( Moderate consumption)
This Diet has actually been know to lower the risks of heart disease and can actually help you live a much longer and healthier life. It has been noted, people who live in the Mediterranean area, are actually much healthier than those who live in the United States, for example.
Regular exercise is also required for the Mediterranean diet to have a full healthy effect on your body. You can even take on a sport if you like, such as soccer or tennis, for example. Keep in mind, exercise is the best kind of medicine.
Key Foods That Can Prevent Heart Disease
Here is a list of some key foods in the Mediterranean diet that are linked to have a positive effect on your heart:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Instead of using fatty butters for cooking, use extra virgin olive oil. It is rich in monounsaturated fat and the extra virgin kind has antioxidant polyphenois. It can also be used on broccoli with lemon juice to give it a mouth watering taste. You can also use it on other vegetables and salad. Yes, it has the effects of making all the greens taste good. Extra virgin olive oil has been believed to play a major role in the Mediterranean’s low heart disease rates. This is due to its monounsaturated fat and antioxidant polyphenois properties.
My family’s all time favorite, stuffed peppers and sauteed onions. These peppers have many great qualities. They are absolutely rich in fiber, vitamins A, C, and K. Most importantly, lutein and zeaxanthin which, in turn, strongly protective against vision loss. So if you love your eyes and are not trying to lose eyesight, eat your peppers, please.
Hot peppers can be good for lowering blood pressure and high cholesterol. It is fair to say, this is good news for your heart and keeping it healthy.
Hazelnuts, Pistachios, Almonds, Cashews, and Walnuts
Pistachio trees are surprisingly popular in Greece and other kinds of nuts are all over the Mediterranean. All these nuts have been linked to significant heart health benefits. They contain lots of good fats, monounsaturated fat, to be exact. An amino acid called arginine, is found in nut protein. The good news about arginine is that it helps maintain healthy blood vessels. Keep those blood vessels clog free by eating some nuts, if you want a long healthy life, that is.
Yes, beans of course! These harness a high quality protein, along with a slew of calcium, iron, and zinc. Beans reduce your chances of heart disease, they can prevent colon cancer, and possibly assist diabetics with managing their blood sugar levels.
Fish and other sea foods are an important food in the Mediterranean diet. Fish provides healthy heart properties because it contains omega 3 fatty acids. This is another form of healthy fat besides the olive oil which will contribute positively to lowering the risks of heart disease and stroke.
Note: If money is an issue, you can take a supplement which contains omega 3 fatty acids. You can get one from amazon that I recommend, by clicking HERE.
Foods That You Should Avoid
If you want any kind of success with this diet, you must stay far away from these foods:
- Ice Cream (Sorry about this one, I know it is hard, but I believe in you!).
- Sugar ( Natural sugar from fruits is okay; don’t add any extra sugar in drinks or on food).
- Soda and juices: Even Diet Soda.
- Refined Grains: White bread, white rice, white flour, degermed cornmeal, etc.
- Trans fats
- Refined oils: Corn oil, vegetable oil, grape seed oil, soybean oil
- Processed foods/meats
As you might notice, these unhealthy foods apply to many other diets as well. Even if you were not to follow the Mediterranean diet, just by avoiding these foods, you will significantly increase your chances of losing weight, and will be on your way to a healthier life.
You can still enjoy ice cream every once in a while, maybe like 2 times a month, and still see great results. Especially if you use the intermittent fasting technique with this diet.
What to Drink on the Mediterranean Diet
Your best bet is to stick with water. If you drink lots of water in-between meals you will feel full and you won’t get tempted to eat more than you are supposed to.
Coffee and tea are also your go-to drinks that you are safe to have. Just make sure to not use any sugars or sweeteners. Coffee is my life saver when I am fasting, it helps me get through it.
Stay far, far, far away from any sodas or juices. This is due to the large amounts of sugars these kinds of drinks have. A bottle of Coca cola can be used to remove paint from a car. Imagine what it does when you put it inside your body. This just proves that soda is unhealthy to drink.
On the Mediterranean diet, one is supposed to drink a glass of red wine one time a day. It is supposed to be good for the heart.
Warning: Do not drink red wine if you have a problem with drugs and alcohol and you are trying to stop. Drinking this will ruin your chances to recover. Also do not drink wine if you are on any prescribed medications that do not allow consumption of alcohol.
Sample Meal Plan
Here is a sample meal plan for a week, that I have made to help you get started:
- Breakfast: Egg omelet with veggies, feta cheese and oregano cooked with virgin olive oil. Yogurt.
- Lunch: Pita bread with feta inside. Hummus. String beans.
- Dinner: Roasted salmon with brown rice and garden salad.
- Breakfast: Oatmeal with nuts and raisins. Apple.
- Lunch: Tuna fish sandwiches with tomato. Pickle on the side. Fruit salad.
- Dinner: Lamb with lentil soup and Greek salad.
- Breakfast: Greek yogurt with fresh blueberries and strawberries.
- Lunch: Left over Dinner. Add a salad and a fruit.
- Dinner: Stuffed peppers with golden raisins and brown rice. peppercini peppers.
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with feta cheese and veggies with cut up tomatoes and cucumbers with olive oil and red wine vinegar.
- Lunch: Fried calamari with lemon juice and seasoning. Asparagus.
- Dinner: Italian egg drop soup with wheat bread and olive oil.
- Breakfast: Spanakopita ( spinach pie ) with a fruit salad.
- Lunch: Tilapia fish with vegetables and tomatoes.
- Dinner: Pasticho (A Greek lasagna dish) with a Greek salad. (Greek salad contains cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese, kalamata olives, onions, peppercini peppers, lettuce mixed in olive oil and red wine vinegar.) You can add avocado for extra healthy fat.
- Breakfast: One slice whole-wheat toast. Peanut butter. Banana.
- Lunch: Left over dinner from Thursday.
- Dinner: Chicken Saltimbocca. Corn on the cob.
- Breakfast: Hard boiled egg sliced on a plate covered in olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano.
- Lunch: Feta sandwiches with chicken using whole grain bread. Chick peas.
- Dinner: Mediterranean tuna spinach salad with whole-wheat bread.
Some Sample Snacks ( you can have 2 snacks a day)
- Pistachio nuts, walnuts, cashews, Almonds, hazelnuts
- A piece of fruit
- Greek yogurt
- Celery and carrots with hummus
- Dried apricots
Note: If you are eating out, make sure you ask them to cook your food in extra virgin olive oil.
The amount of calories and portion size will vary from person to person, so adjust as necessary. This is just a sample food plan so if you want more ideas, you can always find more on google by searching Mediterranean meal plans.
Why Eat Mediteranean Over Other Diets?
The Mediterranean Diet is a great one. The reason for that could be from its Health benefits and weight loss properties. One specific thing sticks out more than anything with this diet. That is, its heart healthy properties. Other diets may contain items that can be good for the heart, but not as many as this diet has to offer.
If your main concern here is to really shred off fat, you may want to check out my article on The Ketogenic Diet. On the other hand, if you are already slim or almost their, and want to improve your heart health or cholesterol, this diet may just be the right one for you.
Also, if you are a fan of fish/seafood, enjoy working out regularly, have no problem going long periods without red meat/and processed meat, and can resist from eating sugary things, like soda, ice cream, candy, than this is your soul mate perfect diet. Being a salad freak would not hurt either and using virgin olive oil and vinegar as dressing can be so beneficial.
For me, my family is naturally on this diet because we are from Greece, a Mediterranean country. My grandmother is in her 90s and my family is healthy and in good shape for the most part. Could this be due to the Mediterranean Diet we are so accustomed to?
Mediterranean Diet Cons
This diet can sometimes be confusing in nature to understand. It is difficult to come up with a meal plan when you do not know how much of each ingredient to use. For instance, this diet tells us to eat a high consumption of fish but is not specific as to how much fish.
Also, wine is a part of this life style, but some people are prescribed medicine from their doctors, and are not allowed to mix their drugs with alcohol.
This diet would also be bad for addicts who are trying to sustain from drugs and alcohol. A glass of wine may be good for your heart, but for an addict it can be poison. It can cause them to go back to their active addiction, and the only thing that comes out of that is, jails, institutions, and death.
If you are trying to lose weight fast, this diet may not be the one to do that. The Ketogenic diet is known to help people burn fat quickly through low carb, high fat, no sugar and moderate protein consumption. Have no time to make meal plans but want to lose weight? Not a problem, go here for the solution.
The Mediterranean Diet is that of a healthy one. It is especially healthy for the heart, containing many foods that can prevent heart disease. This diet also promotes weight loss, with lots of exercise and patience.
It is simple to include this diet into your life. You can even follow this diet when going out to eat. Just like most healthy diets, avoid sugar and processed foods, eat your greens, and get your protein in. Unlike most, avoid too much red meat, but eat lots of fish and sea food for protein.
Otherwise, learn to love extra virgin olive oil, olives, feta cheese, and salads. Use your spices and herbs. Drink red wine and eat pistachio nuts. Keep that heart beating strong for years to come.
Live like the Greeks and the Italians, and eat the Mediterranean way!
Thanks for stopping by at, Effective and Healthy Diets. Have a great and healthy day, Adios! or Yasu, in Greek.