We Heart the Mediterranean Diet
Eat Well for American Heart Month at Our Chattanooga Restaurant
February is National Heart Month! So what better time to take note of your habits, check in with your heart, and make sure you’re doing everything you should be to keep it healthy? Old age isn’t the only factor that can lead to heart disease. Things to be aware of are diet, physical activity, blood pressure, cholesterol, and smoking. Take control of your heart health by eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, avoiding habits like smoking, and managing your blood pressure and cholesterol. Also, practicing the Mediterranean diet is a great way to work toward greater heart health!
What is the Mediterranean diet?
Essentially, the Mediterranean diet consists of eating vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potations, whole grains, breads, seafood, herbs, spices, and–of course– extra virgin olive oil. You can work in poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt in moderation, and very rarely partake in red meat.
This style of eating is derived from the traditional cuisine of, you guessed it, countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. This diet is recognized by the World Health Organization as a healthy and sustainable dietary pattern, and recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to promote overall wellness while also helping to prevent chronic diseases.
The foundation of this Mediterranean diet is vegetables, fruits, herbs, beans, nuts, and whole grains, with meats being built in around this base. Meals are plant-centric rather than meat-centric, and moderate amounts of dairy, eggs, and poultry are sprinkled in. Red meat is something that only factors in on occasion, as dishes that center on red meats are traditionally less heart healthy choices.
Embracing Healthy Fats
Move aside, saturated and trans fats. We know these types of fats only contribute to heart disease. The Mediterranean diet focuses on incorporating healthy fats into meal plans, so olive oil is king. Olive oil, the primary source of fat in the Mediterranean diet, provides monounsaturated fat, which has actually been found to lower total cholesterol. Nuts and seeds, also components of this style of eating, contain monounsaturated fats as well.
Fish is another important component within the Mediterranean style of cooking. Fatty fish, such as mackerel, salmon, albacore tuna, and herring, are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat that when consumed can actually help reduce inflammation in the body. These amazing omega-3 fatty acids can also reduce blood clotting, help decrease triglycerides, and even reduce one’s overall risk for stroke or heart failure.
Eat like the Mediterranean People
If you’re looking to boost your heart health with a new spin on your diet, try some of these tips from the Mediterranean style of cooking to jumpstart your efforts.
- More fruit and veg- Go overboard on your servings of fruits and vegetables! Aim for 7 servings per day.
- Cook with healthy fats- Olive oil is your new best friend! Try it as a replacement for butter when cooking or even on bread.
- Get fishy with it!- Try incorporating more seafood into your meal plans. Grilled fish makes for a quick and easy weeknight dinner that’s tasty too!
- Chill on the red meats- Try to reduce your intake of red meat, subbing in fish, poultry, or even beans for a protein that’s more heart healthy. When you do have red meat, try to keep portions small.
- Spice up your life!- Go crazy with herbs and spices for flavorful dishes that rely less heavily on salt, which we all know isn’t great for the heart.
- Join us for a meal at Acropolis Mediterranean Grill! We’ll show you what this style of cuisine is all about, and why it’s so delicious and healthy for your heart!