What is the Mediterranean diet? Foods to eat to lower heart attack risk

The Mediterranean diet has long been hailed the best diet plan to adopt for an overall healthy lifestyle. Not only is the Mediterranean diet packed with easily-accessible foods, but it doesn’t require you to cut out some of your favourite treats, such as red wine and cheese. In fact, the Mediteranean diet is not too dissimilar from the government’s healthy eating advice, the Eatwell Guide. But what is the Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet is inspired by the eating habits of Greece, Southern Italy, and Spain in the 1940s and 50s, earning its popularity thanks to its emphasis on fruit, vegetables and wholegrains.

Often hailed the “world’s healthiest diet”, the Mediterranean diet has also been associated with lowering the risk of heart attack, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. But why is it so healthy?

The Mediterranean-style diet is so highly commended, it even has its own section on the NHS website.

The NHS explain the diet is generally high in vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil.

It usually includes a low intake of meat and dairy foods.

The NHS advise:

  • Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • Including fish in your diet
  • Eating less meat
  • Choosing products made from vegetable and plant oils, such as olive oil

Meanwhile, Healthline advise poultry, eggs, cheese and yoghurt are eaten in moderation, while red meat is eaten only rarely.

They also recommend cutting out sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils and other highly processed foods.

Refined grains includes white bread and pasta made with refined wheat.

Which foods are in the Mediterranean diet?

According to Healthline, the best Mediterranean vegetables to include in your diet are tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts and cucumbers.

When it comes to fruits, they advise apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons and peaches.

They also recommend legumes such as beans, peas, lentils, pulses, peanuts and chickpeas.

Those looking to follow the Mediterranean diet should also opt for whole grains such as whole oats, brown rice, rye, whole wheat, whole-grain bread and pasta.

The diet also includes a lot of fish and sea food such as salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, oysters, clams, crab and mussels.

When it comes to dairy, cheese and yoghurt such as Greek yoghurt can also still be enjoyed.

Those in the Mediterranean are also known to eat a lot of extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados, and avocado oil.

The diet also includes moderate amounts of red wine, while water should be the go-to refresher.

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