How to Follow a Modified Mediterranean Heart Diet

If you live in a town without easy access to a large food store, you might find it difficult to follow the Mediterranean heart diet strictly.

However, as long as you follow the spirit of it, and make the right kind of substitutions, you can get most of the benefits using local foods, and probably save a bit of money doing it.

The Mediterranean heart diet is a diet based on the diets of people who live in Greece and Italy, and focuses on healthy fats and whole grains, with loads of fruits and vegetables and some lean meat.  Another important thing to know is that you need to get at least 30 minutes of good exercise every day, or you do risk gaining weight on the Mediterranean heart diet.

ONE) Buy everything fresh when possible.  Frozen vegetables really aren’t a good substitute for the real thing.  The Mediterranean heart diet dictates that vegetables constitute at least a third of your intake of food, but you can’t really eat too much of a good thing.  Snack on fruits, not candy bars, and learn different ways of cooking different vegetables to make them more exciting.

A vegetarian risotto or one made with shrimp is a great example of a healthy, low-cholesterol meal that’s filling and contains loads of good fats and protein.  Go easy on the cheese, and add a large side salad instead of more rice if you’re trying to lose weight on the Mediterranean heart diet.

TWO) Learn the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats.  It cannot be emphasised how important it is that you know this, and what the effects of both are on your body.  You don’t need to take an advanced organic chemistry class, but the basics are that saturated fats are any animal fat or lard, and any cooked oil (including olive oil when it’s cooked).  These increase cholesterol, and are quite difficult for your body to digest, so it instead stores them directly as fat cells.

Unsaturated fats can be found in raw olive oil, olives, avocados, margarine, and oily fish, as well as loads of other fresh foods.  They help to lower cholesterol, help you lose weight (when eaten in moderation) and can greatly reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease.  They are a vital part of any diet, but especially so with the Mediterranean heart diet.

THREE) Olive oil!  While cooking olive oil does reduce its health benefits somewhat, it is definitely preferable to using vegetable oils or fat to cook with. Grill or bake food in the oven, lightly sprinkled with olive oil. Don’t fry it – this will ensure that you’re eating as little cooked oil as possible.  Instead of buying salad dressings from the store make your own with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 table spoons of red balsamic vinegar, some wholegrain mustard, mixed herbs and garlic.  It’ll taste better and be much better for you.  Avoid creamy dressings.

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