The Mediterranean Diet
Improve Heart Health, Maintain Weight and Fight off Cancer
August 22, 2013
By Cassie Lazar-Walsh
The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is full of nutritious food that prevents and protects from heart disease and chronic illness and promotes longevity.

The seven countries study – the first to examine lifestyle and diet with heart attack and stroke rates in different populations – found a correlation between low rates and rarity of coronary heart disease of the people in Crete, Greece.

One major factor contributing to the decreased risk of heart disease was the Mediterranean diet the Cretans consumed which was high in good fats, fish, fruits and vegetables and low in meat and animal products.

What does the Mediterranean diet consist of?
  • This diet is high in good fats, monounsaturated fatty acids from olive oil (oleic acid), avocado and nuts (everyday).
  • Little meat, lamb, pork, chicken and beef (1-2 per week).
  • Loads of fruits and vegetables; try to consume a serve in every meal if possible.
  • High in wholegrain breads and cereals (1-3 per day) and legumes such as beans, chickpeas, lentils (2-3 per week).
  • High in oily fish and seafood; at least two or three times a week, from Atlantic salmon, mussels, swordfish, mackerel, blue grenadier and sardines (2-3 per week).
  • Yoghurt everyday but few cheeses and other dairy products.
The Mediterranean diet does not include much meat, but rather focuses on consuming good fats, fish, fruit, vegetables and nuts.

So what's so good about the Mediterranean diet?
  • This diet is high in plant sterols and stanols from the vegetable oils, leaves and nuts. These plant sterols compete for cholesterol in the body and have a cholesterol lowering effect… great for heart health!
  • The fruits and vegetables supply an abundance of vitamins and minerals with great antioxidant properties to fight off the harmful effects of free radicals!
  • The oily fish and seafood in this diet provides Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for the body, have long term anti-inflammatory properties and prevent cardiovascular disease.
  • Limiting meat consumption means the diet is low in exogenous cholesterol found in foods of animal origin. This will in turn lower LDL cholesterol and prevent and reduce blood clotting and heart disease.
  • The monounsaturated fatty acids in the olive oil also reduce blood cholesterol levels!
  • The legumes are high in protein and are easily digested, allowing our bodies to absorb 90% of what is being consumed. Although legumes are not a source of complete protein, combining legumes with wholegrain foods ensure all essential amino acids are consumed. The protein will assist almost all body processes, maintaining defense of the immune system and regulating pH within the body, to name a few. Legumes are also a great source of thiamin (B1), which is essential to the heart, muscle and nervous system.
Instead of the fad diets that have us hoping for results, why not eat luscious and nutritious food until you are satisfied! This Mediterranean diet incorporates healthy eating through a balanced diet of good fats and an abundance of vitamins and minerals.

Eat natural, eat from the earth, and your body will reap the benefits!!

For a healthy recipe that incorporates the Mediterranean diet and principles, check out Cassie's recipe for Baked Salmon with Vegies.

Cassie Lazar-Walsh is a Human Nutrition student at La Trobe University, majoring in Human Physiology. You can get in touch with Cassie through her Facebook page or email her at cassie.lazar@hotmail.com.
"Eat natural, eat from the earth, and your body will reap the benefits!!"