All About Nutrition

Promote Heart Health with the
    Mediterranean Diet
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Mediterranean diet basics

You can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease by adopting the practices followed in a traditional Mediterranean Diet. The Mediterranean Diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and monounsaturated fats (olive oil).

Here’s a quick breakdown of the characteristics common to a Mediterranean Diet:


Fruits, vegetables and whole grains

A high intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains reduces LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol which leads to a build-up of arterial plaque. Grains in the Mediterranean region are whole grain with very little unhealthy trans fats and usually consumed without added butter or margarine.


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Healthy fats

Include monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fats. Sources of these healthy fats include olive oil, canola oil, nuts, and fish. The Mediterranean diet approach does not include a high saturated fat intake or trans fatty acids, both of which contribute to heart disease.

Olive oil – provides monounsaturated fat, which helps reduce LDL cholesterol. To receive the highest level of antioxidant benefits, select "extra-virgin" and "virgin" olive oils, the least processed forms. When you see the term “light” on olive oil labels, it indicates a reduced olive flavor.

Nuts – high in fat and calories, but low in saturated fat and depending on the nut you select can be a good source of heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids (i.e. walnuts). Eat in moderation due to high calorie content and limit the heavily salted nuts or honey roasted.


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Red wine can have a similar affect to aspirin in that it reduces blood clotting. Red wine also contains antioxidants. If you already drink wine, continuing to do so in moderation (less than 5 ounces of wine per day) may be beneficial. If you do not currently consume wine, I do not recommend you start.



Omega 3 fatty acids and fish

Increase your intake of heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids, which are linked to reduced triglycerides, reduced arterial inflammation, lower blood pressure, and high HDL (good) cholesterol. Include fish (I don’t mean battered and fried) as a regular part of your diet in place of the more typical red meats, use flaxseed in your diet, and consider an omega 3 supplement.


Lisa Nelson RD
Lisa Nelson RD

Be sure to subscribe to The Heart of Health ezine for regular tips to promote heart health and weight loss from dietitian Lisa Nelson.


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Last reviewed: 25 August 2009 || Last updated: 27 December 2009


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NOTE: Mega doses of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, or other supplements cannot cure illnesses and in fact can be very dangerous and produce toxic side effects and interfere with medicine you are taking. Always ensure you consult your doctor before taking any type of nutrient supplement.
Disclaimer: This guide is not intended to be used for diagnostic or prescriptive purposes. For any treatment or diagnosis of illness, please see your doctor.

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