The Mediterranean Heart-Healthy Diet
The Mediterranean diet is one of the easiest diets to adopt and maintain
on a long-term basis because it does not require radical restriction of total
amounts of fat or carbohydrate. Calorie intake should be appropriate for
maintaining a normal body weight. Follow these guidelines.
Avoid the following:
- Eat an abundance of natural, whole plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, and salads. Try for seven to ten servings daily.
- Include whole-grain, high-fiber breads and whole-grain pasta in your meals and snacks.
- Keep saturated fat to a minimum: choose chicken, lean cuts of red meat, and nonfat dairy products, and use butter and cheese in moderation.
- Incorporate fatty fish in your diet, especially salmon, sardines, trout, and tuna. These are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Use olive oil as a source of monounsaturated fat.
- Eat frequent servings of peas, beans, legumes, and nuts.
- Drink low to moderate amounts of alcohol. Wine, especially red wine, is a good choice. Consumption should be limited to one drink daily for women, two drinks daily for men.
- Foods high in sugar
- Trans-fatty acids, which are found in processed foods labeled as containing "partially hydrogenated" oil
- Processed "starchy" carbohydrates, such as food made with white flour
- Oils high in omega-6 fatty acids, such as corn, sunflower, safflower, soybean, or peanut oil
Practical suggestions for incorporating
the Mediterranean diet into everyday life
|Fruits and vegetables
||Wide variety of whole fruits and vegetables;
try for at least 7-10 servings per day
||Vegetables prepared in butter or cream sauces
|High-fiber breads, cereals, and pasta
||Whole-grain bread and cereal, bran, brown
||Sweets, white bread, biscuits, breadsticks,
and other refined carbohydrates
|Protein that is low in saturated fat
||Lean cuts of meat (fat trimmed) or poultry
(no skin); low-fat dairy foods (skim milk, yogurt)
||Bacon, sausage, other processed or high-fat
meat, milk or cheese that is not low-fat, ice cream
|Fish or other source of omega-3 fatty acids,
at least 1 or 2 times per wk
||Salmon, trout, herring, water-packed tuna,
mackerel (or fish oil supplement); flaxseed, spinach, walnuts
||Fried fish (except when pan-fried in olive
|Healthy oils for cooking, salad dressing, and
||Extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil, flaxseed
oil ("high-oleic" sunflower or safflower oil may also be an option)
||Omega-6 oils (corn, sunflower, safflower,
|Peas, beans, legumes, and nuts
||Soybeans, lentils, or any kind of peas,
beans, or legumes; tree nuts (eg, almonds, pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts)
||Heavily salted or honey-roasted nuts; stale
or rancid nuts
||One 5-oz glass of wine, a 12-oz beer, or a
1.5-oz drink containing distilled spirits with the evening meal
||Limit to no more than 1 drink daily for
women, 2 drinks daily for men
||Emphasize whole, natural foods as above; look
for "trans-fatty acid-free" margarine and snack foods
||Fast food, fried food, margarine, chips,
crackers, baked goods, doughnuts, any processed food made with
partially hydrogenated oil
SOURCE: VOL 112 / NO 2 / AUGUST 2002 / POSTGRADUATE MEDICINE / UNDERSTANDING THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET